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March 16, 2001 - March 16, 2001

Too many takers for old high court building Friday, March 16, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Its one pie which all quake-struck government departments in the city are now vying for - the Old High Court building.

Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, which had constructed the building some 40 years back to serve as a children's hospital, is looking to shift some of its badly damaged offices to the building. But the 15 magesterial courts of Mirzapur , which are operating from just four rooms , too have sought space in the old court.

Interestingly , a large portion of the most sought after building has been badly damaged putting it beyond use. Even the double storeyed block, housing the four family courts, reveal signs of severe damage. All concrete pillars around the periphery of the building had to be treated with epoxy-resins, in a bid to hold the structure together.

The building was originally constructed by the AMC in 1961 but was soon handed over to the legal department for housing the Gujarat High Court when Gujarat was carved out of the erstwhile Bombay state. After the High Court shifted to its new premises over a year back, the quake-battered corporation now wants its building back for relocating its damaged offices.

According to senior AMC officials, one of the blocks (Cha as pronounced in Gujarati) of the commissionerate, has been put in the G 5 category - which implies it has to be demolished. "Since the old high court building was initially constructed by us we thought we will shift to it as we are in need of space," said a senior official of AMC.

But, the old high court is also being viewed as a temporary shelter for some of magisterial courts of Mirzapur. The courts are now operating from a few 'safe' structures of the demolished old district and criminals courts of Gheekantha, presently under going a complete rebuilding.

While the districts courts of Mirzapur continue operations with the judges holding sessions of only urgent matters, the 15 metropilitan courts of the same premise were operating from four rooms in Gheekantha , with six courts operating from one single room.

The AMC, on the other hand, was planning to reclaim the old high court building even before the quake after the high court had shifted to its new venue alongside the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar highway. "We were planning to set up a planetarium in the premises of the old high court" said the senior official. Even in the 1999-2000 AMC budget an allocation of Rs 50 lakh was also proposed for the planeterium.

As of now , both AMC and the metropolitan courts are vying for space in the building which ,according to the authorities, has very little space to spare as it was partially damaged during the Republic Day quake.

Almost two-third of the building is heavily damaged, with monstrous cracks all over the structures, and blocks of concrete showing detachments from the walls at several places.

The cellars at the Advocates Library block which used to house case records (some of which dates backs 1818) were certified unfit for use by the engineers and had to be shifted to the wing immediately neft to the Family Court block. The cellars' celings are now resting on blocks of wood provided to lend support to the damaged structures.

Senior officials of the state legal department ,meanwhile, said in all likelihood the metropolitan courts would given space to operate six of their courts in the family court block as their were a part of an essential service of society, rather than a planetarium. The department has also decided to shift four courts to the Agricultural Directorate officials asserted.

Officials of the High Court, who were monotoring day to day activities at the old high court building and other lower courts , said decision was still pending, stating that the application of AMC was also being taken into consideration.

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Water prices shoot up in Rajkot Friday, March 16, 2001

RAJKOT: Cost of purchasing water in Rajkot has increased with the setting of summer. With the water cut imposed by civic authorities, private water suppliers are making hay by charging exorbitant rates from the hapless people of the city.

Water prices have shot up by nearly 15 to 20 per cent. A householder spends Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200 per month just to purchase water. The cost of water in Rajkot city for 600 litres was Rs 50 to Rs 60 a fortnight ago. The price today is Rs 75 and above.

For 5,000 litres of water, the cost a fortnight ago was Rs 100, today it ranges between Rs 125 to Rs 175. For 10,000 litres the cost 15 days ago was Rs 400, today it is priced at Rs 550 while for a 12,000 litre tanker the price was Rs 475 which now costs Rs 650.

People are forced to purchase water from private sources as only a limited supply of water is available from municipal sources. At present the city is being supplied water every third day and that too for just 30 minutes. All dams supplying water to the city have dried up. Private water suppliers, taking advantage of helplessness of people, are out to make fast money. According to collectorate sources, around 40 per cent tanker owners are from outside Rajkot.

An estimate reveals that there are around 150 tankers with a capacity of 10,000 to 12,000 litres, 375 tankers with a capacity of 5,000 litres, and 1,000 'chakdo' rickshaw carriers having a capacity of 250 to 330 litres.

However, water suppliers said they had been forced to hike prices as, "we have to procure water from far away places. Sometimes our tankers have to travel around 70 km in search of water. Besides, the private bore owners outside the city have also hiked the prices. We are helpless", he said.

Reiterating the same thing, another private supplier said earlier water was available from nearby villages like Munjka and Nyari, but now they had to travel long distances. All these factors make private distribution an unviable proposition."

An ugly situation is now threatening to develop with growing scarcity of the precious commodity.

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14,000 telephone connections provided Friday, March 16, 2001

NADIAD: Addressing an open House session, the area manager of Kheda telecom district, D K Vaish, said that 14,000 new telephone connections were provided in this financial year while around 2,655 cases were pending at different places of the district due to non-feasibility.

"This year a growth rate of more than 36 per cent has been achieved which is highest in the history of Nadiad," he said.

Twelve new exchanges have been opened at Wanth Wadi, Keriavi, Thavad, Nenpur, Goblej, Ghodasar, Ramol, Salun, Fagwel, Pariaj, Traj and Jetholi while two more exchanges are expected to be set up at Sarkhej and Bhutia by the end of this month.

New electronic exchanges have been commissioned at Haldharvas and Limbasi while expansion of capacity has been undertaken at Matar, Chaklasi, Kthalal, Dakor and Mohmdabad exchanges.

In the coming year 2001-02, new electronic C-Dot exchanges are planned at Aklacha, Antisar, Motizer, Radhu and Radhavanaj. Large capacity expansion will be done at Mahudha, Kathalal, Wanakbori Uttarsanda, Balasinor and Kapadwanj exchanges.

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GEB draws up plan to meet power demand Friday, March 16, 2001

VADODARA: The Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB) has drawn up an action plan to meet an increase in demand for power by the agriculture sector, a reliable GEB source said on Tuesday.

With the onset of summer, demand for power by the agriculture sector is likely to go up by 15 million units per day. In a bid to tackle the situation, GEB chairman Nalin Bhatt had convened a meeting of chief engineers of various GEB circles.

The meeting was attended by GEB member finance M M Srivastava, member administration J N Singh, member technical P H Rana and GEB secretary H S Patel, besides others.

At present demand for power is around 140 million units per day.

According to Bhatt the action plan includes bringing back on stream the closed units, improving the plant load factor of the thermal power stations and buying of power from independent power producers (IPPs).

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Rajkot in brief on 15th March Friday, March 16, 2001

Stolen goods worth Rs 1 lakh recovered from two

The police on Wednesday nabbed two persons and recovered stolen goods worth Rs 1 lakh from them. The two, identified as Feroze Sandhi and Bavaji Yatin Dudharejiya, confessed to stealing car stereos from two cars, apart from a cycle and a Hero Honda motorcycle.

Directors resign

Five directors of a depository security company, a subsidiary of the Kutch Saurashtra Stock Exchange, have resigned. Of the 11 directors in the company, two may resign later, Ashok Ajmera told TOINS on Wednesday. The five have resigned to facilitate the stock exchange president Ashok Badev to constitute a new team. The executive director of the stock exchange Suresh Raval said the general body would decide on the resignations.

The Rajkot zoo is the first in the entire state to implement the directive of the Central Zoo Authority of giving zoo animals to other zoos without charging any money. The zoo authorities have decided to give away two tigress Riddhi and Siddhi to the Surat zoo Four tigers were surplus with the Rajkot zoo, superintendent Makadiya told TOINS on Wednesday.

Fine collected

The Rajkot zonal office of the Gujarat Electricity Board collected Rs 3 crore in fine during February 26 to March 4. Around 47,843 power connections were checked and 1,276 cases of power thefts recorded besides 406 cases of closed meters, 480 cases of slow running of metres and 42 other irregularities.

Octroi recovered

The octroi department staff of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation have detected octroi evasion by owners of Khushboo Auto in the city to the tune of Rs 3.25 lakh. The civic staff has collected Rs 1 lakh in fine from the owners who were evading payment of octroi.

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