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March 11, 2001 - March 11, 2001

N V Hall controversy ends, students apologise Sunday, March 11, 2001

M S University Boys' Hostel's N V Hall controversy came to an end with vice-chancellor Anil Kane taking a firm stand in the case.

Kane in his atypical style got the agitating students to sign a written apology wherein the students have said that they resorted to violence in feat of anger and would not repeat such behaviour in future.

Against this written undertaking, Kane has withdrawn the complaint from Sayajigunj police station. "The have also agreed to pay the repair charges for the furniture they broke here and in the hostel. I have informed that I will independently look into the case and decide whether to change warden N K Natrajan or not. They students have agreed to obey my decision on the change of warden issue", Kane said.

Natrajan while welcoming the decision said that he was glad that the students have apologised and said that if his statements have hurt students he felt sorry for it. "We look forward to a better relationship now", Natrajan said. N V Hall students have withdrawn their agitation.

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M S University syndicate rift comes out in the open Sunday, March 11, 2001

M S University Syndicate politics and tension between two groups of Syndicate members has come out in open with syndicate member Jungbahadur Rajput accusing fellow members I I Pandya and Casim Unia of deliberately tarnishing varsity image.

Rajput's reaction is against Pandya and Unia's representation to the University Grants Commission where the two members have lodged a complaint saying MSU had violated Career Advancement Scheme norms in at least 19 promotions.

Rajput in his press statement said that Unia and Pandya were very much part of the syndicate that endorsed the 19 promotions. "They were part of the decision-making process. They did not dissent when the syndicate cleared the said promotions", the press statement says. It goes on accusing Unia and Pandya of fomenting all troubles that turn into anti-administration agitation on MSU campus.

Rajput, in his bid to settle scores with his two colleagues, mentions that both had complied in approving ten dubious cases in MSU. Listing this cases, the press statement says that Dr Nikhil Desai was promoted to professor and joined the syndicate on the same day by evading a court case. He also alleges that during the tenure of vice-chancellor Padma Ramchandran dubious computer deals were made.

Rajput further says in his press statement that there was similar fraud in MSU Students' Union accounts. The press statement also raises doubt in M S University's stand taken in commerce faculty's sexual harassment case.

On promotions, the statement says that R H Shah of applied mechanics was appointed as professor while H J Shah of computer science department was turned down in the syndicate despite the fact that the latter was recommended by selection committee.

It also raises doubt against the re-appointment of arts faculty dean Maya Shah and appointment of S A Saiyed as MSUSU president. "No recovery of excess amount drawn by former chief warden K C Tiwari despite a syndicate decision. Dr Amita Pandya was made deputy chief warden of girls' hostel for the sake of getting her vote", Rajput alleges in his press note.

Syndicate members Casim Unia and Pandya in a counter statement said all allegations levelled against them were baseless. "They may try their best but won't be able to bring out or prove a single case that shows that we have done something that is against the MSU spirit, rules and regulation", the statement says. It further counters Rajput's allegation saying, "It is because the university's image is dear to us that we are exposing the frauds committed in last few months by self styled power centres in the MSU", the statement says. The statement adds "what has been exposed is just the tip of the iceberg".

MSU observers feel that the infighting in syndicate is likely to become more intense in the coming days.

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Eight students arrested for vandalism Sunday, March 11, 2001

Sayajigunj police arrested eight students for Wednesday's vandalism at M S University office. The students were arrested early morning on Thursday. All eight were bailed out by former warden of N V Hall K V R Murthy and commerce faculty teacher S R Kulkarni.

The Sayajigunj police had arrested the students following complaint lodged by the varsity office. On Wednesday a group of agitating students had damaged furniture and smashed glasses in MSU office. The students were protesting in N V Hall controversy case. Later they had sat on a hunger strike in front of MSU halls of residence chief warden office.

It is learnt that the meeting convened by chief warden to end the controversy has not yield any result. Current N V hall warden N K Natrajan said that his complaint was against the violent means adopted by students and not against them personally. "I don't have anything personal against students. If they talk peacefully I will be most glad but one cant resort to violence and vandalism to prove a point", Natrajan said.

On Wednesday N V hall students had also alleged that Natrajan had threatened to fail them in exams. "How can I fail them they are not students of my department. Besides its an unthinkable thing to fail students deliberately. All I did was lodged a complaint with the security officer and informed him about Sunday's incident", Natrajan said.

ISO 9002 certification: Amid raging controversies, the MSU has some thing to cheer about. It's faculty of technology and engineering's department of computer science and electrical engineering have become the first university departments in Gujarat to get an ISO 9002 certificate for quality education. "It's is something to be proud of. Besides, it has augured the brand equity and will translate into better placements for students", head of computer science department H J Patel told 'The Times of India'.

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Apathy over govt inaction on unsold buildings Sunday, March 11, 2001

Major design and execution flaws, experiments with floating beams and cantilever load bearings had led to death of over 700 people in Ahmedabad.

The government reacted by freezing all new building plans till a comprehensive set of quake-resistant building bye-laws was in place. However, what has raised eyebrows is the government inaction in the case of thousands of unsold buildings in west Ahmedabad which could not find buyers because of recession.

With skyscrapers falling from grace, the market for a lot of buildings of G+3 or G+4 height has opened up. In fact, hundreds of buildings built before 1990 have survived while the casualty in the younger buildings, made after 1995, has been more, says DCP (Zone II) Manoj Agrawal. It is akin to withdrawing the whole batch of medicines if just one lot is found defective or sub-standard, he added.

And it is these buildings, with floating columns and cantilever load bearings, built by people who made a killing on the capital markets, which are there for the taking today. They survived the recession and luckily even the earthquake and have become prized property in the west zone of the city.

Says managing director of GRUH Finance, Sudhir Chowksi, "We are not going to finance purchase of these buildings and especially those buildings that do not have their papers in order."

He said the housing finance industry has come under a cloud and "we are looking up to the plan worked out by the Centre to start giving finance for new buildings".

Of the 12,000 low- and high-rises in the Corporation area, more than 95 per cent do not have the Building Use permission. BU permission is mandatory before any building can be used for commercial or residential purposes.

Sources in AMC point out that there are about 450 high-rises in the Corporation area, and most of these show deviations from the original building plans.

These buildings need top-quality strengthening and perhaps a design rehaul before they can be used. But all these buildings - the unsold stocks of the recession years - whose builders did not bother to take a Building Use permission are up for grabs, a Gujarat Institute of Engineers and Architect office-bearer confided to TOI.

In fact, not having a Building Use permission is an oft-mentioned charge against builders. A pro forma prepared by the police, which is a check-list for investigating officers of police stations concerned, clearly asks: Has the building got a BU permission?

Municipal commissioner K Kailashnathan and even builders like Purshottam Goyal have admitted that BU permissions were never considered important, and no one got it issued. But today, the BU permission has earned legal currency with banks and financial institutions who insist that they would lend money for only those buildings that have a BU permission.

"At least that way we will not burn our fingers, chasing people who don't want to repay loans taken against houses given to banks as collateral. Now, we are left with assets that don't exist," another housing finance sector official said.

But still, neither the AMC and AUDA at the ground level nor the government has banned purchase or sale of buildings whose construction is already completed and which have not yet been certified for safety.

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Petrol station owners' strike put off Sunday, March 11, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The strike, threatened by the petrol pump owners, has been put off till March 31. The government notification, issued on January 3, on the specification of the density of petroleum products sold by the petrol pump owners in the city has been withdrawn till the matter regarding the testing of the product is resolved.

The government had recently issued specification that the diesel sold by the petrol pump dealers should be of the density of Cetain 46 and petrol was required to be of the density of AKI 86.

"This would have meant that the petroleum product sold at the petrol pump would have to be tested at the company laboratories, since we do not own the testing machines. This would have caused us a lot of hassle to us," says Federation of Gujarat Petrol Dealers Association president Ratanprakash Gupta.

If the norms would have been implemented then the petrol tank would have to be taken to the company testing laboratory in the city to test the petrol product. According to Gupta, presently there are only three such testing laboratories in the state -- Chandkheda (Ahmedabad), Sidhpur, Vadodara and Jamnagar.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Gujarat Tyre Dealers Association has also decided to go on an indefinite strike from March 6 to protest against the high sales tax in the state. The Ahmedabad Tyre Dealers Association vice president Rajendra Verma says that while other states, like Delhi, have a floor sales tax of 8 per cent, Gujarat has a sales tax rate of 13.2 per cent.

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