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March 17, 2001 - March 17, 2001

Alembic obtains stay in pollution case Saturday, March 17, 2001

VADODARA: The Alembic Ltd has obtained a stay of execution from Gujarat Pollution Control Board's appellate authority on Gujarat Electricity Board and the Vadodara Municipal Corporation's move to disconnection power and water to the company. The stay is in force till March 27.

The application for the stay follows the serving of a direction notice on Alembic Ltd on March 9 by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board. The notice which was served under section 31 A of the Air (Prevention and Pollution control) Act 1981 directed Alembic Ltd to shut down its production till they ensured that they take adequate measures to control pollution.

The GPCB had issued similar notices to the VMC and the GEB directing them to stop their supply of water and electricity on the seventh day of the notice.

Alembic senior vice-president H T Patel had said that as they were a continuous process industry manufacturing drugs, stoppage of production activity at such a short notice was difficult.

Rohit Prajapati of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, who was a member of the probe committee that was formed by the district collector to investigate the gas leak in several parts of the city, alleged that Alembic has used its influential powers to get the stay from the GPCB. He said the GPCB had even failed to inform members of the probe committee about the stay they have granted.

He said lack of transparency in the functioning of the government indicates their inability to deal strictly with polluting units, which get encouragement due to such lax rules. According to him the GPCB had the powers to take action against the Alembic under section 37 and yet they had not done so.

However, officials of the Alembic say they have an ISO 14001 certificate which is issued only to a unit that maintains environmental standards. It also has a state of the art manufacturing unit and a new effluent treatment plant that was commissioned in 1995-96.

They maintain that they have not caused the emission of polluting gas that is harming citizens in Vadodara and there is no process in their plant that can lead to the production of harmful gases. The small quantity that is released in the manufacturing process is neutralised in the process itself, they said.

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University Grants Commission directs MSU to explain position Saturday, March 17, 2001

VADODARA: The University Grants Commission has asked M S University to explain its position in 19 cases concerning promotions of teachers under the career advancement scheme.

In a terse letter to vice-chancellor Anil Kane, UGC chairman Hari Gautam has taken a strong note of the alleged violation of CAS norms. Dr Gautam in his letter to Kane has said that the allegations of violation of UGC guidelines was a 'serious' matter and that the MSU should tackle it as a 'priority' matter.

Dr Gautam's intimation to the varsity is in response to the allegations over questionable promotions in MSU raised by member of parliament Raju Parmar in the Rajya Sabha and a written complaint lodged by syndicate member Casim Unia.

Kane, reacting to the UGC chairman's letter, said that the MSU has followed all UGC guidelines and there has been no violation of norms. "M R Vyas's case is the only glaring exception.

Baring that there is no violation of UGC guidelines. All appointments and promotions have been done in accordance with the UGC and in presence of its observer", Kane told 'The Times of India'.

He said the MSU was ready to face an enquiry from the UGC in this regard. "They are welcome to come here and check for themselves. Our record is clear and we have nothing to hide. I reiterate that there has been no violation of UGC guidelines", Kane said.

In M R Vyas case, Kane said that the inquiry committee has submitted the report and the MSU will put it in the forthcoming syndicate meeting. "Whatever will be decided in the meeting in Vyas case will be conveyed to the UGC. If there is consensus to punish the guilty, we will not hesitate doing that", Kane remarked.

Outside the university office, on varsity campus, a large section of academics interpreted UGC's letter as a major embarrassment for the varsity. Syndicate members like Unia and I I Pandya stuck to their stand that the cases they have mentioned in their complaint were done before October 2000, that is before the UGC observer's visit to MSU.

Interestingly, the CAS norms violation allegation case has exposed the bipolar politics in MSU's governing council - the syndicate. Ostensibly, the tiff between two groups of syndicate members has also extended to the senate. Those with Unia and Pandya accuse MSU of bowing down to political compulsions brought about by certain members and putting MSU's credibility at stake. On the other hand, members like Jungbahadur Rajput blame Unia, Pandya and Co. for deliberately tarnishing MSU's image for one or the other reason. The ongoing tussle, however, has claimed the larger MSU as a casualty, senior MSU observers say.

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BJP-led group reduced to minority in Nadiad municipality Saturday, March 17, 2001

NADIAD: The BJP-led group was reduced to minority in the 42-member Nadiad municipality with seven of the total 27-member BJP group joining the Opposition rank.

Sensing trouble, president of the municipality Durgaben Jeswani within minutes of the general board meeting abruptly adjourned the House. The BJP has six members and rest are its supporters.

Sudden adjournment of the House led to commotion. Reporters who had come to cover the board meeting were restrained from entering the House by the president. Even the policemen and SRP personnel who had come sensing trouble were also not allowed to enter inside the House by the president.

Later justifying her action, Jeswani said that she had adjourned the House, as many members had complained of not having received the agenda of the meeting within the stipulated period of three days before the meeting.

However, Opposition Congress leader Mahendra Patel alleged that the president had given a lame excuse for postponing the board meeting. He said that Opposition Congress members had received the agenda on March 12 itself. He said that if some members had not received the agenda, then how come they attended the meeting.

Patel said that with seven ruling party members joining hands with the Opposition, the BJP-led alliance have lost control over the municipality and have no moral right to continue in office.

Even after the adjournment, the Opposition members remained in the House till late evening and according to indications available, they are planning strategy in the event of president not tendering resignation even after being reduced to minority.

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Closure lands schools in financial trouble Saturday, March 17, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Education minister Anandiben Patel's diktat on compulsory closure of schools fearing a quake has apparently pushed majority school managements in city on brink of a financial crisis.

Gone with the students, now on a long vacation, is the fee for almost five months. But financial obligations of running a school including paying salaries to teachers, property tax, electricity and water bills and other miscellaneous expenses remain, which is precisely the cause of worry for most managements.

A glimmer of hope was offered by the state government that promised early disbursement of grant-in-aid in view of the quake but the same has not been fulfilled as managements still await the money.

"Fee is our only source of income as we do not receive any grant-in-aid from the government. It has become very difficult for us to pay the teachers without the fee money," conceded Sanjay Patel, management trustee of Ravi Bal Vidyamandir, a primary school with a strength of 425 students in Asarwa.

Patel says that management has decided to pay salaries to the teachers employed till March. As for paying salary of remaining two month, he says teachers will simply have to wait until June when the parents will clear off dues to get admission in the next academic session. "All schools in our area have decided to adopt this policy. With financial resources all exhausted, there is no other option to consider," he shrugs.

Curiously, the problem is more specific to small-time schools than big schools who, though are feeling the pinch, have enough contingency funds to tide over the crisis with comparative ease.

"Functioning in labour dominated areas, we do not charge any donation, just a nominal fee. However, closure of schools has posed serious problems for us as there has been no curtail in expenditure. My school will have to pay for the examination papers that have been printed, one cannot refuse to pay the same just because the government has decided to mass promote students," says president of Primary Schools Management Association Natubhai Patel and trustee of Sharda Shikshatirth. Patel also hints that given the crunch, a number of schools might decide to withheld declaring results until parents clear off the dues for this academic year.

Meanwhile, managements of almost all schools, big and small, have decided to approach the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) to relax property tax being charged from the schools in special post-quake situation. "We do not expect AMC to waive the tax but will plead to give us a breather by agreeing to certain concessions in the hefty commercial taxes imposed by the corporation", said trustee of a reputed school in the city.

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GSRTC's drive against pvt bus owners yields result Saturday, March 17, 2001

VADODARA: The drive launched by Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) and the ST Majdoor Sangh against the private bus and jeep owners who "are making hay at the GSRTC's expense by violating laws" is now yielding results.

GSRTC officials say that the daily income has increased by Rs 3.5 lakh from the time they launched the drive against private bus and jeep owners. "We have asked our depot manager to take errant vehicles to nearby police stations and lodge a complaint with the police against the private bus owners who park their vehicle in the 'No-parking zone'. This has led to decrease in the number of private vehicles near ST bus depot," says GSRTC divisional controller KA Bariya.

"Earlier, we were incurring heavy loses in the buses that run in the rural areas, as the private bus owners were weaning away the people by offering lower rates. But now with the check on private bus owners, the flow of traffic from rural areas like Bodeli, Chotta Udepur, Dabhoi, Savli, Padra and Waghodia has increased," says Bariya.

This drive was started by the administration along with the help of ST Karamchari Union, which is also affiliated to the INTUC, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and Majoor Mahajan to find out means to increase GSRTC's revenue earning.

"Last year, Vadodara division had incurred a heavy loss of Rs 28 crore. Our earning was very low compared to the expenditure. But thanks to the drive now our earning has increased to Rs 20 lakh per day," adds Bariya.

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