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March 10, 2001 - March 10, 2001

High Court asks Oza to swear on affidavit against Shikhar Saturday, March 10, 2001

A division bench of the Gujarat High Court has asked senior counsel Yatin Oza to state all the allegations which he raised against the builders of Shikhar Apartment on an affidavit.

Appearing for one Manish Dave, Oza demanded to make Nandu Agrawal, the brother of builder Chiman Agrawal, a party to the case. Nearly 90 people had died when D Block of Shikhar Apartment collapsed in the January 26 earthquake, he said.

Shikhar builder Satish N Shah had pleaded that he was just a financier and developer and that Chiman Agrawal and finance minister Vajubhai Vala were also involved in the project but no legal action was being taken against them. The case came up for hearing on Wednesday.

Oza presented the town planning scheme, city survey documents and other materials in the High Court and claimed that Shikhar's were amongst the two plots of land cleared under Section 20 of the Urban Land Ceilings Act with the knowledge of the then revenue minister Vajubhai Vala.

He said only two proposals have been cleared under Section 20 of the Urban Land Ceilings Act by the state government since September 13, 1998 to this date and one of the two was that of Shikhar's.

He said the plan was passed for 11 tenements of 200 sq yards each but instead of that the developers built four towers covering 79,000 sq yards.

Adjourning the case till March 13, the division bench comprising of Chief Justice D M Dharmadhikari and Justice P B Majmudar have asked Oza to swear on affidavit the materials which he has presented in the court for their veracity.

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Relief works in dist to start from March 15 Saturday, March 10, 2001

Relief work in Rajkot district will start from March 15. Around two lakh workers will be provided employment at these sites. District authorities said the number of relief works would be increased gradually.

Bandh observed

Residents of Maliya-Miyana observed a bandh and sat on a dharna in front of the mamlatdar's office recently to protest against non-issuance of new ration cards to people who lost their old ones in the quake.

Plea to ease tax

House owners in the Soni Bazar area have urged civic authorities to ease the severe burden of house tax. In a signed statement submitted to the commissioner on Friday, residents said they were unable to bear the hike in house tax, in these times of recession.

Wall demolished

Civic authorities demolished a illegally constructed compound wall around corporation land on the Atika Road. The wall, 80 meter in length and 40 metre in width, had cordoned land reserved for a garden in the area.

Work halted

The Rajkot Urban Development Authority has halted all construction work following a ban imposed by the state government on new constructions. Ongoing work on houses in Kothariya has also been stopped. RUDA officials are now waiting for the revised safety rules to be incorporated in the building plans.

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Debris removed from Aji riverbed Saturday, March 10, 2001

Mayor Ashok Dangar said on Thursday that the debris collected from various areas after the quake and temporarily dumped in the Aji riverbed has been lifted. This debris has been used for levelling the area near old Khadpith.

The mayor said the riverbed had been completely cleaned up for better disposal of drain water. Dangar said that to prevent further dumping of debris in the riverbed and in the drains, special security guards would be posted by the river side. A drain cleanliness drive would be launched from Monday and will be operational for the next 45 days. Separate gangs have been formed to take up this work, Dangar said.

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Demand for adequate water supply increasing in region Saturday, March 10, 2001

Despite claims of the state government that there would be no water shortage in the region, increasing incidents of attacks on administrative offices to protest against unavailability of water, are being reported.

Citizens of Palliyad in Bhavnagar had recently resorted to a rasta roko stir for getting their quota of water. Womenfolk of Kothariya went on a rampage at the Rajkot district collector's office demanding more water. Residents of Jasdan have already chalked out an action plan to fight for ensuring adequate water supply.

Rajkot collectorate sources say fresh demands for water are being made every day. The problem is graver in the interior villages where all sources of water have dried up and supply through tankers is erratic. Women in such villages have to trek long distances to even fetch a pot of water. "If this is the position in March, imagine what the position will be in the coming months", a senior officer at the collector's office said.

Water is certainly becoming a scarcer commodity. In a recent incident at Chittal village of Amreli district, the office of the gram panchayat was ransacked by residents, and office records destroyed. The residents had earlier made several pleas regarding unavailability of water but to not avail. On Thursday, when residents went to complain to the administrator at the gram panchayat, he was missing. This angered the crowd which resorted to violence.

At Liliya and Bagasara towns in the same district, clashes between two groups of people over water issue, were reported. In Maliya-Miyana, a barrel of water is reportedly being sold at Rs 50, and residents have been urging authorities to supply water through tankers at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Rajkot collector P N Patel said 677 villages in the district were been supplied water through tankers. Irrigation department sources said of the 113 dams, 90 per cent had gone completely dry. Presently, only four per cent of water was being supplied from the water stored in Saurashtra dams.

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Saurashtra-Kutch Stock Exchange building up for auction Saturday, March 10, 2001

The Saurashtra-Kutch Stock Exchange building in the city is up for auction. Tax officials have decided to auction off the building as house tax dues over Rs 10.25 lakh have not been paid.

Sources told TOINS on Friday that the building, named after former Saurashtra co-operative sector leader Popat Sorathiya, would be auctioned soon to recover the dues.

The civic body has drawn up a list of 23 properties which have not paid up huge tax amounts yet. Among them are the Rajkumar College with outstanding dues of Rs 2.16 lakh and Kanya Chhatralay with outstanding taxes of Rs 9 lakh.

Tax authorities have so far collected Rs 22.75 crore as house tax. It has yet to collect Rs 7.25 crore to meet the tax target. Steps have also been taken to ensure that if payment made through a cheque is not cleared, a criminal offence can also be registered against the person issuing such a cheque.

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