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March 14, 2001 - March 14, 2001

High Court directs state government to submit diary of police probe into Shikhar Wednesday, March 14, 2001

The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday directed the State Government to produce on March 16 the case diary of police investigation into the collapse of Shikhar Apartment. The direction came in a public interest litigation (PIL) alleging that authorities were not taking action against builder Chiman Agrawal, though he had constructed the building.
When the case came up for hearing today, counsel for the petitioner, Yatin Oza, submitted to the court that the police was not taking action against Agrawal and his brother Nandulal Agrawal as Revenue and Finance Minister Vajubhai Vala ``was shielding them.''

As directed by the court last week, Oza today put all documents on affidavit in support of his submission that it was Agrawal who was the real builder of the ill-fated building. He also produced an interview letter issued by Agrawal Estate Organisers to select the project manager for Shikhar. He also produced receipts in the name of Nandulal Agrawal for various fees paid to Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) for getting various permissions.

Also in the draft amendment to the petition allowed by the court, the petitioner also joined as party the city police commissioner, Nandulal Agrawal and Agrawal Estate Organisers Ltd.

In the draft amendment, the petitioner alleged that the chairman of Geratpur Bhagyalaxmi Co-operative Housing Society, which constructed Shikhar Apartment, was an employee of Chiman Agrawal. This, the petition alleged, showed that it is Agrawal who is the real builder. It also said that it was Agrawal and his brother who took irrevocable power of attorney from the original land-owner Pannaben Pravinchandra Shah in 1994.

The power of attorney mentioned that the land was to be sold to Geratpur Bhagyalaxmi Co-operative Housing Society and all procedures for seeking exemption under Section 20 of Urban Land Ceiling Act, to sell the land and to execute all sale deeds would be done by Chiman Agrawal and his brother, alleged Oza.

He further pointed out that though there were just 11 members of the society, who were to get 200 square metre land each, permission under Urban Land Ceiling (ULC) Act was given for land measuring 6,936 square metre. The chairman of the society was shown as Mukesh R Acharya, who was Agrawal's employee, and his address was the same as the old address of Agrawal Estate Organisers Ltd.

It was also pointed out that Nandulal Agrawal placed before AUDA plans for constructing the high-rise and AUDA approved them on July 2, 1997. However, this plan is completely different from the one submitted to authorities for getting NA permission for the land. The petitioner alleged that the plan was approved under influence from Vajubhai Vala.

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Centre's nod for MSU project on fungal diseases Wednesday, March 14, 2001

A project by the head of the microbiology department B.B. Chattoo has been selected for the Union Government's ambitious ``New Millennium Indian Technological Leadership Initiative''.This is a unique achievement for the Biotechnology Center and microbiology department of M.S. University (MSU).
The project aims at the realisation of the vision of a developed India in the field of science and technology.

Chattoo's project ``Using Functional Genomics in Tea, Mentha, Ashwagandha Plants for Gene Expression Modulation'' has been selected under the scheme.

The scheme will be managed and operated by Center for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The center has identified nine organisations across the country under the scheme. Besides the Bio-technology Center, the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) has also been approached for the purpose.

Speaking to Express Newsline, Chattoo said that his project would focus on fungal diseases and lay emphasis on proteome analysis. ``The research will provide vital inputs in controlling diseases in crops. Eventually, we will be able to do away with anti-fungals.'' The research might go a long way in preventing environmental and food pollution. ``Also, it can take care of resistant diseases. This can be done by identifying interaction between the proteins of the host and that of the disease organism.''

Proteonics, notably, is a science that has come to light only in the last two-three years. The very fact that the Bio-technology Center is doing research on the subject is a matter of credit. The center has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for transfer of technology of the Hepatitis-B vaccine. According to Chattoo, he had been working on this project for a couple of years. ``The funds we receive under the scheme can go a long way in its development,'' he said.

Meanwhile MSU syndicate on Tuesday authorised the vice-chancellor to take a decision regarding the signing of the MoU. The MoU is likely to be signed on March 22.

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Weavers, textile traders reach a compromise Wednesday, March 14, 2001

Weavers and textile traders, who fought on the streets on Monday over the issue of outstanding payment to the former, struck a deal on Tuesday at the initiative of Police Commissioner V.K. Gupta. According to the agreement weavers will get their payments within two days' time.
At a meeting called by the commissioner, both the parties have agreed to help the administration in maintaining law and order. Gupta warned both parties of strict action in case of violence and said that he would not allow any lawlessness.

Mahendra Oswal, member of the action committee formed by Federation of Textile Traders Association said, "We have assured weavers that they will be paid within two days. If any weaver has a complaint , it should be brought to the notice of leaders and they will sort it out."

"We appealed to the weavers to support our agitation against the ad valorem duty on finished textile products," added Oswal. He said that they would continue to boycott the purchase of gray cloth and take delivery of finished fabric from processing units till the government reintroduced the compound levy system.

Meanwhile a representative of the weaver community said that their concern was the sale of grey cloth and they were trapped in cash crunch as there was no payment over the last ten days.

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Mangoes work their magic on avid Amdavadis Wednesday, March 14, 2001

This is not just an aam season. For every aam season is a special one a time to enjoy the juicy fruit that is one of the few good things that an Indian summer offers.
And as it does every year, the rasila mango has made its entry into Amdavadi fruit markets. The first entrants are Gola, Payri, Sundari, Alphonso, Totapuri and Vijayawada mangoes, which come from Maharashtra and South India. The golden fruit finds pride of place on shelves of many fruit shops now, and people in the city are looking forward to a juicy season.

The season, which picks up after Holi, comes with the first variety of mangoes, ranging from the King of Mangoes, the Alphonso, to the poor man's mango, Badam. "The season actually begins from January but it ebbs and picks up only after Holi. We have started getting Gola, Payri, Sundari, Badam, Totapuri and Alphonso, which will continue for the next four months," says Chimandasbhai Khatumal, a fruit merchant in Manek chowk.

The mangoes are also priced accordingly with the King, Alphonso, being the higest at Rs 100-120 per kg. "Gola is available at Rs 25, Payri at Rs 60 and Sundari at Rs 50," informs Khatumal.

The fruit is brought mainly from Ratnagiri, Chennai and Vijaywada. "The mangoes from Ratnagiri are the juiciest of all and the best. So is the Badam from Vijaywada," says Harishbhai, a fruit merchant in Kalupur. While most of the mangoes have already entered the market, Kesar, Dasheri and Langda will start only from May. "These mangoes are brought from Uttar Pradesh primarily and their season begins only from May or early June," says Khatumal.

Sales have also picked up. "The business has started very well and we have good number of grahaks coming and purchasing. While the middle-class prefers to purchase Gola or Badam, the rich and upper middle-class buy expensive ones like Alphonso, Sundari and others," says Khatumal.

As the fruits come from outside, the quake has fortunately not affected the quantity or quality. "Mangoes that come from Gujarat will begin only from May that too from Junagadh and hence there is no problem regarding mangoes due to the quake," says a merchant.

Sheela Patel, a housewife, says her children are thrilled to find the season's first mangoes and hence the demand at home presently is huge. "My children are extremely fond of mangoes and they demand them everyday. This time's mangoes taste good and we all are looking forward to a good mango season," she says.

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Ahmedabad in Brief on 14th March Wednesday, March 14, 2001

Govt criticised over relief work

Trustee of the Gujarat Relief Committee Vadilal Kamdar said in a press release on Tuesday that the Government has still not taken any concrete step for the rehabilitation of quake-affected people in Kutch. He suggested that while framing the rehabilitation policy, Government should bear in mind the sentiments of affected people as many of them do not want to be relocated. He also said that Government should make arrangements for drinking water and fodder for cattle at the earliest.

Kolkata Gujarati Samaj helps

Delegation of the Kolkata Gujarati Samaj on Tuesday informed Governor Sundersingh Bhandari that it planned to contribute resources worth Rs 4 crore to the worst quake-hit areas of the State. These resources include tents and medicines along with other materials like special aids for the artisans of Kutch.

Assistance for Helpage India

Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment will now provide assistance to Helpage India in providing medical help to the quake-affected people of Gujarat. Helpage India is planning to increase the number of medical vans from six to 10 for providing services in the affected districts. Helpage India has also provided ration to 7,500 quake-affected families of Kutch, Rajkot and Surendranagar.

Israel donates 3,000 jackets

Israeli Ambassador David Aphek met Gujarat principal Resident Commissioner Sunil Sud and handed over 3,000 jackets of various sizes donated by the Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd for the quake-affected people of Gujarat. Israel has also set a mobile hospital in Bhuj for providing prompt medical aid to the people of Kutch. Director of Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd Haim Dayan was also present on the ocassion.

Stamp duty waived for quake-hit

Government has waived stamp duty and registration fee for the quake-affected people till March 31, 2002. This includes the stamp duty and registration fee incurred in construction of buildings, loans received from banks and other financial institutions and mortgage of property.

Weather-resistant houses on anvil

Gujarat Prantiya Maheshwari Sangathan, a unit of the Maheshwari community, is planning to construct 200 weather resistant houses of 200 sq ft each on a temporary basis for the quake-hit families of Kutch. The houses will be made from PVC sheets and have an attached toilet and bathroom, fluorescent lights and fans. Moreover the proposed dwellings shall be furnished with beds and essential household items. The first phase of the work is near completion and 12 such houses will be donated to the residents of Bhachau on March 22.

UNDP man praises relief work

Manager of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pravin Pardeshi has said the Government has proved during the recent quake that it can successfully face natural calamities. This was possible because people from all parts of the country helped in their own way in the relief operations.

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