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March 14, 2001 - March 14, 2001

Residents block roads demanding more water Wednesday, March 14, 2001

With acute water shortage in the region, water-related violence has increased in Saurashtra with people resorting to road blockades.

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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Saurashtra residents demand more relief Wednesday, March 14, 2001

Residents of the region are demanding an increase in relief works in Saurashtra. The aftermath of quake and the second consecutive year of drought have left the people on the lurch.

Most avenues of employment are closed adding to the woes of the residents.

Collectorate sources said relief works would start in 84 villages of the district from March 15.Jayesh Gadhiya, in-charge of relief work in the district panchayat said barring the quake-affected areas of Morbi, Maliya, Wankaner and Tankara, relief work would be started in other areas.

Giving details, Gadhiya said in Rajkot district alone, 805 affected villages have been declared as scarcity-hit and 60 have been declared as partially affected by drought. Jamkandorna, Kotdasangani Lodhika, Dhoraji and Gondal would have six relief work sites each, Jasdan would have 20, Rajkot rural 4, Upleta 3, Jetpur, Wankaner and Padhadhari taluka five each.The taluka development officers have been asked to ensure that temporary shelters are put up at all relief sites.

A Congress delegation, led by former legislator Shantaben Chavda marched to the collector's office and demanded that more relief works be started at Lodhika, in Rajkot district. Chavda said 50 per cent of the villages in Lodhika were affected by drought.

Meanwhile, fodder cards are yet to be issued to affected people. Though the cards have reached the various taluka headquarters, distribution of fodder through depots has come to a standstill, as the cards have not been distributed to the needy.

Water is being supplied to 400 villages through tankers, of which 45 villages are from Rajkot taluka, 17 from Kotdasanghani, 70 in Gondal taluka, 35 in Lodhika, 36 in Padhadhari, 54 in Jasdan, 31 in Jetpur, 21 in Dhoraji, 15 in Upleta, 9 in Jamkandorna, 13 in Maliya and 12 in Wankaner taluka.

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Lecturers selected by GPSC left in the lurch Wednesday, March 14, 2001

It has been an excruciatingly long wait for more than 300 candidates selected by the Gujarat Public Service Commission (GPSC).

One and half years after they were selected for the post of lecturers in the government colleges, the state government has failed to officially appointment them so far, raising doubts if they will ever get to taste the success they so deservedly had achieved.

"Our joy knew no bounds when we were selected for the coveted post. With police inquiries and assessment of certificates complete, we have been expecting official appointment anytime. Only the state government has evaded appointing us so far due to unspecified reasons, rendering us unemployed despite the selection", complains Kamlesh Patel, representative of the committee of the aggrieved candidates selected as lecturers in various government colleges by the GPSC, in a detailed press communiqu issued here on Tuesday.

Selected by the GPSC from a scramble of 25,000-odd candidates these desperate 300 candidates have knocked on almost all possible doors of power only to get verbal promises that never materialise. "We have pleaded our case with almost all higher education officials including the education commissioner and higher education minister. When all failed we also represented our case in the Lokdarbar held by Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel twice on December 4, 2000 and then on January 8, 2001. All we get is a rhetoric consolation that justice will be done and those selected appointed at the earliest, but no concrete steps are ever initiated", concedes Patel.

Education department officials have reportedly blamed the delay on appointments of ad hoc lecturers in the past. "This reasoning is absolutely baseless as state governments very own GR rules that in cases where candidates selected by the public service commission are available and have not been given appointment, no ad hoc appointments should be made and if made, the same be immediately declared cancelled", points out Patel.

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School teachers now have a new role to play Wednesday, March 14, 2001

City school teachers now have a new role to play. With the urgent need to transform the existing system of education, they have become story-tellers, imparting moral lessons to primary class students.

With educational experts emphasising on moral and character building of young students, some of the city schools have now inculcated moral studies and character building as a part the curriculum, especially for primary classes. Through several activities and story-telling sessions, the students are motivated to "cultivate moral, social and spiritual values".

Moral and character building is taught from standard I to VII in most schools. The principals feel that this is the correct age to teach children the correct values of life. "A child is like a tree. He has to be nurtured and nourished right from childhood. Once he grows up, it would be difficult to infuse correct values in him," says Sanskar Vidya Vihar principal Minakshi Jha. Ambe Vidyalay principal Neelam Sacchar adds, "Because of the consistency with which the students act on the values that has been taught to them, later on it becomes an integrated part of their personality and life-style."

According to school principals and teachers, the aim of moral and character building is to draw out the goodness in the pupils and emphasise on them values like faith, authenticity, integrity, courage and responsibility. "Mostly moral thoughts are told in the form of stories. Through these stories, we impart value education to the students. Qualities such as honesty, truth, trust and mutual understanding is emphasised," says GEB School principal NN Desai. He adds, "If you imbibe correct values in students when they are young, they turn out to be better human beings."

"Moral studies has now become an important part of school education. They influence a child's perceptions and helps him become a better human being," says Tejas Vidyalay vice-principal S Govindan. She adds that if the schools tell value-based stories and encourage value-based activities amongst students, then the students are able to understand and accept things in a better way.

Even students agree that moral and character building lessons in schools are important for the development of an individual. "Ours is a nuclear family. Both my parents are working and extremely busy. I always had problems distinguishing between 'good' and 'bad'. Watching television only added to my problems. But now thanks to the moral studies classes, I feel that I have actually become a better human being," says a Baroda High School (BHS) student on condition of anonymity.

"I see so many changes taking place around me. It would have been difficult for me to judge between the 'right' and 'wrong', were it not for what I had learnt at school during the moral studies class," says Riddhi Oza of Bright School. Even Anup Vegad, a standard VII student of Ambe Vidyalay says, "Values of competence, loyalty, love and punctuality imbibed in me by my teachers has today helped me become a better human being. I am able to overlook others faults and weaknesses and respect elders. This in turn has helped me win others respect."

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Vadodara starts drawing Narmada water Wednesday, March 14, 2001

The city has started taking water from the Narmada river to overcome the water crisis.

As the use of water has already increased due to the scorching summer heat, the water level at the French wells has depleted to 5.95 metres.

According to sources in the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), water from Narmada main canal was taken to Vadodara branch canal and from there to the Ajwa reservoir. "The main Narmada canal has been closed for some days. This would increase the water level here and water would naturally flow from the main canal to the branch canal and finally to the Ajwa reservoir," said an official. They say that water from the Narmada river would ensure that the city gets water throughout summer.

The amount of water that would be taken from Narmada river to the Ajwa reservoir is yet to be decided. "We have started taking water from the Narmada river to Ajwa. We plan to take water for another 15 days. However, the amount of water to be taken would depend on the water treatment facility in the Ajwa reservoir and the size of the pipeline connecting Ajwa to Nimeta to Vadodara city," said VMC city engineer BS Trapasiya.

Meanwhile, with the water level at the French well depleting, VMC had to take 86 lakh gallon water from nearly 15 newly installed tube-wells on Monday. According to sources in the VMC, the water level had depleted because on 'Holi' the municipal corporation had supplied water twice to the residents in the city, both in morning and evening.

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