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March 13, 2001 - March 13, 2001

Bhuj residents to observe bandh on March 15 Tuesday, March 13, 2001

Residents of Bhuj have decided to observe a bandh on March 15 to protest against government's failure to announce a proper rehabilitation package for the quake-affected people of the district.

The state government has done precious little to rehabilitate the people of the region even 45 days after the quake. People have been left to fend for themselves as relief organisations and their workers have now started leaving Bhuj and other areas. The Bhuj Punastaphan Samiti, an organisation of leading citizens of Bhuj, has also voiced its anger at the government's failure to announce any rehabilitation package. "The government has only been paying lip sympathy," said a angry Bhuj citizen.

Citizens from all communities in Bhuj had recently gathered at the Gayatri Mandir near Mahadev Naka area of the city and passed a resolution criticising the government's failure to provide essential services. They urged the government to restore electricity, water and telephone lines in the old fort areas of Bhuj. So fed up are the people with the government inefficiency that they have demanded a proper rehabilitation scheme latest by March 25.

Expressing anger, Hansraj Dholu of the Kadva Patidar Samaj said, "the chief minister and his colleagues who move in air conditioned cars will not understand the miseries of the people living in tents".

A member of the city Lions Club said, "it is sad that people will have to fight against the state government for their rights." The Samiti - a non-political body led by Ratnakar Dholakia and Arvind Hirji Thakkar - said people would take out a rally at 10 am on the morning of March 15.

People have also flayed the state government's choice of relief materials. Opposing the move to provide corrugated tin sheets for building houses, they said that looking to the climate of Bhuj where the mercury goes up as much as 45 to 47 degree Celsius, people would be roasted alive in such houses. They conveyed these sentiments to the chief minister himself when he visited the area.

The people have also opposed the temporary resettlement plan. Plans are afoot to set up a colony near the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation land.

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Swaminarayan Sanstha to adopt 2 more villages Tuesday, March 13, 2001

RAJKOT: The Bochasanwasi Akshar Purshottam Swaminarayan Sanstha has decided to adopt two more villages in the quake- ravaged Kutch district. They had earlier adopted eight villages in Kutch, Surendranagar and Rajkot district.

Villages adopted by the Swaminarayan Sanstha include Vandhai and Ukhadmora in Bhuj, Nana Khirsara, Bhavanipur and Dhdhai extension colony in Anjar taluka, Barvala in Morbi taluka, Garia in Wankaner taluka and Bhadresi in Surendranagar taluka.

A 204-home colony called Swaminarayan Nagar is part of the Sanstha's first phase of rehabilitation. The homes are made from 11 ft x 12 feet of galvanised sheets and have Indian patent stone flooring. There is one bathroom and a toilet for eight families. The colony has a mix of all people from all communities.

Swami Gnanvatsaldas said houses built by the Sanstha have been provided with electricity, water, an open area etc. The colony also has a community hall and a hospital. A modern polyclinic with x-ray, pathology laboratory, sonography, echo-cardiogram facilities and services provided by expert doctors, will also be set up. At present two mobile dispensaries are rendering medical aid to the affected villagers.

Temporary tin and tent structures have also come up on Mundra Road of Bhuj city where 494 families have been provided shelter. In addition, schools will be built in 25 villages and a 1000 houses repaired, he said.

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Alembic denies plant causing pollution Tuesday, March 13, 2001

VADODARA: With Alembic Private Limited claiming that it is not at all involved in emitting foul-smelling gases and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) insisting that the company's plants be shut down, the gas-leak case in Vadodara is getting more curious.

What has given a twist to the matter is that Alembic is promoted by FICCI president Chirayu Amin.

Amin was away in London and could not be contacted, but senior vice president H T Patel said, "We are a continuous process industry manufacturing drugs and stoppage would take at least 20 days. Seven days is too short a time."

On the other hand, the GPCB wants Alembic to cease operations within seven days from the date of the notice, served on March 9. It has issued notices to the Vadodara Municipal Corporation and the Gujarat Electricity Board to stop water and electricity supply to the plant on the seventh day.

Alembic ranks 17th among all pharma companies in India and, in addition to being the largest manufacturer of erythromycin, also manufactures products like Glycodin, Protinules and several other penicillin formulations.

The company's plant is located in Gorwa, in the midst of a residential area.

The GPCB notice was a result of the presence of obnoxious gases that had led to throat infections amongst residents of the area, who had been protesting against government inaction. The city unit of the Youth Congress had ransacked the GPCB office recently, asking the district administration to intervene.

The GPCB has issued a similar notice to Synromatic Private Limited, which manufactures finolacetic acid and is owned by a relative of Chirayu Amin.

Patel, who heads the antibiotics and microbial production department, said that production of new batches was stalled on Monday following the GPCB notice.

He said that Alembic had a state-of-the-art manufacturing unit and a new effluent treatment plant that was commissioned in 1995-96. "We also have the ISO 14001 certificate that is given only to a unit that maintains environmental standards. We have not caused the emission of polluting gas that is harming citizens and there is no process in our plant that can lead to the production of Mercaptan or H2S gas. The small quantity that is released during the manufacturing process is neutralised in the process itself," he said.

However, in its earlier notice served on February 28, GPCB's senior environmental engineer P S Shah mentions that an analysis conducted by them on December 12 shows that "the concentration of particulate matter and H2S are higher than the permissible limits specified by the GPCB." The Alembic was asked to reply to this notice within 15 days.

But before 15 days, on March 9, the GPCB issued a direction notice asking Alembic to close production. The notice was issued by GPCB's senior environmental engineer P S Shah under Section 31 A of the Air (prevention and pollution control) Act 1981.

This notice mentions the use of methane gas by Alembic as fuel, along with natural gas, and informs Alembic that "you have not obtained prior permission of the Board for this".

However, Patel says that the permission for this has been obtained and the GPCB is aware of its use. "We have submitted to them our production process plans which they have passed on all occasions," he said.

The notice also mentions that on March 1 the sulphur dioxide emission levels in one of the company's plants exceeded the limits set by the GPCB, a fact that is denied by the Alembic.

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Visit Israel for FREE programme Tuesday, March 13, 2001

VADODARA: Friends of Israel, an organisation which promotes cultural ties between India and Israel, has announced a free 'Visit Israel programme' for youths between 18 and 26.

They have organised a special programme on the visit this year at Future Education on Tuesday.

MSU lecture

MS University's faculty of home science has organised a lecture on 'Conceptualising Human Development and Education at the Interface of Indigenous and Exogenous Cultures' on Tuesday at 1.45 pm.

Prize distribution

Camlin Limited is organising the national and regional prize distribution function of 'All India Camel Colour Contest 2000' on Wednesday at Balbhuvan between 3.30 to 5.30 pm.

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Panicky depositors withdraw Rs 14 cr Tuesday, March 13, 2001

VADODARA: Panicky depositors with the Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank Limited here withdrew about Rs 14 crore on Monday after an advertisement that the bank had decided to close down.

Worried depositors were thronging the bank premises since early Monday. The depositors had turned up in thousands to check with the bank about the closure advertisement and to withdraw money. Raopura police had to be called in for bandobast at the bank premises near Sagar talkies here.

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