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March 15, 2001 - March 15, 2001

Dubious deals cost BSNL crores Thursday, March 15, 2001

*BSNL state circle vigilance department had ordered recovery of over Rs 15 lakh from M V Omni Enterprises for fraudulently overcharging Vadodara telecom district (VTD) for optical fibre cable and horizontal drilling works in 1999-2000. The recovery is still to be made. Strangely, despite the recovery order that establishes a clear case of false billing the same company was awarded another contract for a period of one year between April 13, 2000 to April 12, 2001 in VTD allegedly for 20 different works!

*In Palanpur, horizontal drilling work for 4, 6 and 8 inches pipes was awarded at Rs 358, Rs 410 and Rs 512 per meter. Similar work in VTD has been approved at rates falling between Rs 1,300 to Rs 2,900 per metre.

*Overall contracts awarded in last two years in BSNL state telecom circle that smacks of dubious deals run into over Rs 10 crore.

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Water-related violence on the rise Thursday, March 15, 2001

RAJKOT: With water being in short supply in the region, water-related violence has increased in Saurashtra.

On Tuesday, people of Lakhapar village in Rajkot district resorted to a chakka jam on the Rajkot-Tramba highway, disrupting movement of vehicles. Villagers demanded adequate water. They claimed they were not being supplied water through tankers even though they had apprised the district collector of their needs.

In another incident at Wankaner, a mob ransacked the nagarpalika office while a Gondal bandh call has been given for Wednesday. Former president of the nagarpalika Govindbhai Desai and three other ex-civic chiefs have joined hands here to fight against insufficient water supply. A 18-member pagla samiti has also been formed. Desai said crisis in Gondal was man-made. He flayed the state government for not completing a single water supply scheme.

Upleta residents have threatened to gherao the nagarpalika office on March 15 if water supply is not streamlined. They demanded that work on laying a pipeline from the Venu-2 water supply project be completed. The project was taken up at the cost of Rs 4.50 crore.

Krishnakant Chottai, organiser of the rally told TOINS that there was no planning to lay internal pipelines. Twenty thousand people would have got water at homes, but for lack of planning by civic authorities.

People of Visipara and Ginpara marched to the nagarpalika office demanding adequate water.

While the state government is unable to meet the demands, people are taking law into their own hands, as womenfolk have to trek 10 to 15 km in search of water.

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Surat textile delegation leaves for Delhi Thursday, March 15, 2001

SURAT: A seven-member delegation representing different associations of the textile industry in the city left for Delhi on Monday night to meet Union Home Minister L K Advani and Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha to seek immediate intervention on the issue of imposition of ad valorem duty in the recent annual Budget, replacing the earlier system of compounded levy in the textile process houses.

"With no solution in sight to the ongoing agitation by traders in the city even after 12 days, there is a widespread fear of ensuing massive labour unrest with potential to escalate into law and order problem," said Federation of Gujarat Weavers Association (FGWA) general secretary Yogesh Mehra.

Meanwhile, a group of 20 traders sat on a hunger strike in protest against the lathicharge by the city police on Monday in the wake of the clash between groups of traders and weavers in the Textile Market.

According to members of the Federation of Surat Textile Traders Association (FSTTA), the police unnecessarily barged into the market and chased the traders and beat them mercilessly with lathis.

In a memorandum submitted to the city police commissioner, FGWA members asked for assurance of safety to the weavers in the city and for immediate arrangements for delivery of payment for the materials supplied to the traders, said Mehra.

FGWA said that the outstanding payments should be released without any delay by the traders as several thousand small weaving units would be on the verge of closure due to non-clearance of monthly electricity bills and salaries to the workers.

If things do not fall in line soon, the worst effected would be the workers in around 4.5 lakh weaving units and over 40,000 trading shops, said a textile unit owner.

The opinions among various associations appear to be widely divided over the manner of the ongoing agitation by traders in the city.

The collective approach so far seen in the ongoing agitation, the first of its kind in this highly segmented industry, appears to be breaking down, with widespread confusion prevailing on the issue, according to several trade experts.

The kind of incident that took place on Monday in which traders and weavers clashed with each other, was in fact politically motivated by the vested interests, said one industrialist on condition of anonymity.

General secretary of FSTTA Mahendra Oswal told this correspondent that the matter between the traders and weavers had been settled peacefully and there could be no incident like the one that happened on Monday.

But, several weaving unit owners said that the issue of ad valorem duty was not their concern and they should not be dragged into the agitation by traders. "The traders have all the right to agitate over an issue but at the same time they should not force the weaving units to join hands," said one unit owner on condition of anonymity.

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MS University's Commerce teacher alleges he has been threatened Thursday, March 15, 2001

MS University's commerce faculty teacher and syndicate member Pragnesh Shah stunned varsity administration when he declared in Monday's syndicate that management faculty teacher Kiran Joshi had threatened him. Shah told the syndicate that he would make an affidavit to this effect and submit it to MSU vice-chancellor Anil Kane.

A majority of members were stunned to hear this as Shah and Joshi were considered to be `good acquaintances' once. Professor Kiran Joshi, on the other hand, denied the allegation saying that Shah was trying to malign him.

"I am not on talking terms with Pragnesh. I have not spoken to him. Nor I have threatened him. I don't talk his language", professor Joshi said. He said Shah wanted to target his brother Sanjeev Joshi, whose term as chairperson RBI cell is extended by five more years.

"This is a well orchestrated ploy to ensure that Sanjeev does not get the extension. However, Sanjeev himself would prefer going back to the department he belongs to instead of stooping to this low level of politics that has eaten into the vitals of MSU", professor Joshi said.

Meanwhile, the MSU passed the financial estimates for the year 2001-2002 that will be later cleared in the senate. Commerce faculty's decision to extend TYBCom exams was also hotly debated in the syndicate.

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Disha organising conference on 'Coping with autism' today Thursday, March 15, 2001

Disha, centre for people with disability, is organising a one-day conference on `Coping with Autism' on Thursday. Disha would also be setting up Autism Care Centre and a Forum for Autism Care and Training for autistic children to meet their training and management needs.
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