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March 10, 2001 - March 11, 2001

'Odour neutralising system can lessen effects of the gas' Sunday, March 11, 2001

The source of the mysterious gas that has affected several parts of the city remains unknown. However, a process called odour control through Odour Neutralising Systems can help mitigate the effects of such obnoxious gases, say environmental experts.

The M S University faculty of technology and engineering lecturer N M Bhatt says the industrial units in these areas and the Vadodara Municipal Corporation's sewage treatment plants can adopt odour neutralising products that can destroy the stink of H2S, Ammonia, Mercapton and other odour causing agents. This technology is used successfully in various other countries. In Vadodara, a prominent industry is using this technique. But it has not used it effectively and, therefore, failed to check the emission," he said.

Bhatt, who is also on the committee that was recently set up by orders of the SDM and the district collector, said their findings so far have revealed that the mysterious gas contains H2S and Mercapton. There is no certainty about the origin of this gas. "It might be emanating through the VMC drainage lines or by some industrial unit, either way the problem can be solved if such odour neutralising products are used," he informs.

"The gas might be a result of anaerobic processes that take place inside the gutters. The concentration of matter results in formation of these gases in absence of oxygen due to the choking of the pipelines.

"It is also possible that the gas might be emanating from the sewage pumping station at Gorwa. After the pumping of the sludge settles down and the waste gases generally emanate," he says.

According to him the industrial units around these 'gas affected' areas too should check their Effluent Treatment Plants (ETP) to ensure that there is no leakage. "There is a need to maintain ETPs properly and ensure sludge control. The wind directions should also be noted and the odour neutralising agents should be used accordingly," says Bhatt.

According to him the VMC can use lime water in the pumping station. This is a cheap and effective measure to check obnoxious odour, he said.

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Industrial map of Surat heading for diversification Sunday, March 11, 2001

This ancient port city with a history dating back to the 11th century BC is today devoid of any visible signs of its maritime history. Instead, the billowing chimneys, huge market complexes, several thousand industrial units dotting the landscape are the new signposts in this city of textiles and diamonds.

Spread over 113 sq km, the city experienced rapid industrial growth since the late 1960s and presently has a workforce of nearly 12 lakh. Today the city has emerged as the major revenue earner in terms of excise, sales tax and income tax. Before the mid 1960s, the city used to be inundated with flood every year leaving behind crumbling infrastructure. But with the construction of the Ukai dam, threats of floods have however receded.

Besides, proximity to Mumbai helped Surat develop as a satellite industrial town acting as a feeder line to the industries in the commercial capital of the country. Since then the industrial face of the city, earlier known for its jari and artsilk business, has made a turnaround.

As per the records with the Surat Municipal Corporation, at present there are around 10,000 diamond cutting and polishing units, 330 textile dyeing and printing units, over 500 texturising units, nearly 80 chemical industries, approximately 4,50,000 powerloom units and 6,610 jari units in the city. Nearly 40 per cent of the total production of man-made fabrics in the country is manufactured in Surat. Almost 80 per cent of the country's total diamond processing (cutting and polishing) is done in Surat. The city has emerged as a major foreign exchange earner with around 40 per cent of the nation's total diamond and gem exports, having a turnover amounting to Rs 36,000 crore in a year, says vice-president of Surat Diamond Association (SDA) Pravin Nanavati.

Before the 1970s, the city's economy was identified with jari and artsilk industries. The famous Kancheevaram sarees of the south used to get the real jari with gold linings from Surat. Another variety of jari, named as imitation jari, was mainly for the fabrics made of cotton, artsilk and polyester.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, the diamond industry witnessed the real boom. Uncut diamonds were imported from the mines of African countries and the Surti Patels' - the original artisans - used their expertise in cutting and polishing the diamonds. The growth of the diamond, gem and jewellery industries continued due to the boom in the export sector.

In the last decade or so the industrial landscape of the city has attained a new dimension with the coming of heavy industries like Reliance Industries Ltd, Essar Steel, KRIBHCO, ONGC, NTPC, L&T on the outskirts of the city in the Hazira industrial complex. The total investment in the Hazira belt is to the tune of around Rs 18,860 crore. Heavy plant equipment, LPG, sulphur, synthetic yarns, sponge iron, urea, ammonia are produced by L&T, Essar Steel, ONGC and Reliance Industries. Projects in the field of nuclear, heavy water and space research are also being executed.

Of late the glut in the world market in the past few years has adversely affected the traditional textile and the diamond industries. Following this, an industrial diversification has resulted into growth of papermill, cattlefeed production units, forest produce and mineral-based units, poultry farms, electronics manufacturing units, ship breaking industries (in the pipeline), wind mills, furnace and rolling mills, air-conditioning and refrigeration, aquaculture and marine product-based industries.

The upcoming liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals at Hazira near Magadalla port, scheduled to begin operations in a year or two, is the latest addition to the city's industrial map. The first private Special Economic Zone in the country has been functioning near Sachin in Surat since November 2000. For providing production and export facilities under one roof, one garment park has also been planned in the city to give a face-lift to the textile industries.

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Panel proposes metering all gas connections Sunday, March 11, 2001

VADODARA: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) gas committee in a meeting on Wednesday proposed that all those who have gas connection will have to take gas metre connection soon.

At present, in the city there are nearly 60,709 residential gas connections, 2,456 non-residential connections and 17 gas connections in AC Plant. Of these, only 44,930 have gas metre connection. "Those who didn't have gas metre connection often used more gas than was required. Though VMC wanted to curb this practice by attaching a gas metre to all gas connections in the city long ago, they couldn't do so due to lack of meter suppliers," says a source in the VMC.

In order to stop the waste of gas, the administrative wing had sometime back put a proposal before the gas committee. According to the proposal, people would have to purchase metre and get it fitted to the gas connection. However, the gas committee has made certain alternations and decided that all gas connections for houses and restaurants will be done by the VMC. It would be VMC's duty to ensure that gas metre is also attached with the connection, while commercial buildings and AC Plants will have to take gas connection from a contractor and later get it checked by the VMC officials.

"We are emphasising that all those who have gas connection should be given gas metre. On the other hand, those who seek new gas connections for residential purposes would have to take gas connection from the VMC and for commercial purposes one has to take gas connection from a contractor at his expense," said VMC gas committee member Umakant Joshi. However, he added that a final decision in this regard will be taken only after its approved by the standing committee.

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Bakutra suffering due to govt apathy Saturday, March 10, 2001

The small hamlet of Bakutra, having a population of around 600, in Santalpur of Patan district has suffered more due to the apathy of the administration than the quake.

More than 80 per cent of the houses have been badly damaged. An ancient Jain temple in the village has also been damaged and the idols shifted to a safer place.

People complained that the government kept itself preoccupied with the relief and rescue work in the cities and never cared for the miseries of the villages in the remote areas.

Even after more than a month, nothing has been done to remove the rubble from the roads.

People demanded that the government should send a JCB to remove the debris to enable them to resume their normal life.

Many village residents are still sleeping out in the open. People also complained that a large number of families were not paid the cash doles.

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Quake losses in Patan pegged at Rs 5.25 crore Saturday, March 10, 2001

The authorities here have estimated the damage to property in Patan in the January 26 quake at around Rs 5.25 crore. This includes damage to private property at Rs 2.75 crore, religious places at Rs 40 lakh and nagarpalika and government properties at Rs one crore each.

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