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March 5, 2001 - March 5, 2001

Bhavnagar dist panchayat passes budget Monday, March 5, 2001

BHAVNAGAR: Bhavnagar district panchayat on Thursday passed its budget of Rs 189 crore (having a surplus of Rs 29 lakh) for the year 2001-2002. The budget was passed by a majority vote. The budget allocation includes Rs 46.3 lakh for ayurveda dispensaries, Rs 30.6 lakh for public works, Rs 26.7 lakh for education, Rs 6.2 lakh for panchayat and development, Rs 2.9 lakh for public health and animal husbandry among others.

While presenting the budget, the district panchayat president Zaverbhai Bhalia said that expenditure in the coming year would be reduced by minimising the administration expenses. Handing over management of the ayurveda clinics back to the state government would also be considered, he said. The provision for natural calamity funds have been increased to Rs 2.5 lakh in view of the intermittent tremors in the area.

However, the Opposition BJP members criticised the 40 per cent reduction in agriculture funds, which was Rs 50,000 last year.

Opposition leader Chitharbhai Parmar told TOINS that the budget was hurriedly passed by the president in an hour without giving any opportunity for critical discussion on various provisions.

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Royalty meet to discuss damages to property Monday, March 5, 2001

RAJKOT: The royalty of Gujarat and Rajasthan including some erstwhile princes and queens met here at the central hall of the Rajkumar College on Saturday to take stock of the situation in the aftermath of the quake that had destroyed many of their palaces and properties.

As many as 5,000 properties of the erstwhile rulers were damaged in the quake.

The meeting was also attended by the officials from the Archeological Survey of India and Gujarat Tourism, which had taken some of the property on lease.

Rulers of Kutch, Dhrangadhara and Jodhpur in Rajasthan were amongst the prominent ones who attended the meeting. The royal household and the Darbargadh of various cities bore the burnt of the quake and many palaces and royal properties were unsafe for the maharajas to stay with their families.

The royalty also discussed what step to take so far as the property taken on lease by the Gujarat Tourism. Some of them even suggested that the state tourism department should be asked to pay for the repairs and bring the property to their original glory. Some others were of the opinion that the repairs of their personal palace which were damaged must be undertaken before the monsoon or else royal artifacts would be damaged.

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Kandla Port Trust to help rebuild educational institutions Monday, March 5, 2001

GANDHIDHAM: In an effort to revive the educational activities in the port town and Adipur area, the Kandla Port Trust has decided to extend 70 per cent financial assistance, of the actual damage, for the repair and reconstruction work of the educational buildings which were affected in the January 26 killer quake.

According to KPT sources, the port authorities have decided to extend 70 per cent assistance of the total damage to the buildings and other infrastructure of the educational institutes in the port area and Adipur.

A detailed damage assessment report prepared by KPT estimated damages to the tune of Rs 13 crore. KPT chairman A K Joti and deputy chairman Vipul Mittra along with port engineers had made a survey of all the schools and colleges in Gandhidham and Adipur area. As many as 36 schools and four colleges were found with severe damages.

During the visit by Union minister for shipping Arun Jaitley, a new charitable trust "Kandla Earthquake Relief Fund" was set up and registered on February 20. The trust is eligible for 100 per cent exemption under Section 80-G of the Income Tax Act.

On the occasion Jaitley had appealed to the people, major ports in the country and the shipping industry to donate funds so that the repair work of educational institutions at Adipur, Gandhidham and Kandla could be taken up at the earliest.

The KPT has also stressed on using quake-resistant technology while reconstructing the institutes in future. Repair work has already begun in many schools in the area.

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High Court unhappy over resettlement of quake-hit Monday, March 5, 2001

AHMEDABAD: In a significant observation, Justice S K Keshote of the Gujarat High Court has stated that the government should have taken care of people who have been rendered homeless by the earthquake by compelling the builders to repair or rebuild the damaged houses at their own cost.

"Shelter is the most important thing to be restored, and in this direction I think nobody is caring in the city of Ahmedabad," Justice Keshote stated.

"The approach of the state government and police to book all persons responsible for inferior constructions which collapsed and killed or injured many on January 26 is commendable," Justice Keshote said. However, he added, even if these people are convicted will it solve the problems of those persons who have lost their flats or tenements? "I have my own reservation that the state government will compensate these house owners to the extent of their full losses''.

The HC judge made the observation last week in a case of Bansilal Sugnomal Tekchandani versus the State of Gujarat which was filed after the earthquake on January 26.

The judge said, "The approach of booking all builders may not be the only solution. It is difficult for the middle class to construct their homes, and their (people) real desire is action against those builders by police and the state to compel them to first rebuild the damaged houses at their own cost".

Asked to comment on the HC observation, senior counsel K J Sethna said conviction or acquittal of the people could take months if not years to happen and till then the government should take care of the immediate relief of the people. Though this is not binding on the administration as it is not a directive but just a observation, the government should think about it seriously, he added.

When contacted municipal commissioner K Kailashnathan said as the matter was sub judice it would not be appropriate for him to discuss the subject.

In fact, says inspector F A Gohil of the Satellite area, the case of Shikhar apartments, where maximum casualty of over 89 persons was recorded in the city of Ahmedabad, is a case in point. Even after suffering damage to life and property the survivors of Shikhar tried to talk the matter out with builder Satish Nyalchand Shah. From January 26 to February 10 the hapless residents, many of whose relatives had died, were more worried about how to get the builder to shell out compensation and work out a formula where they could start living routinely as soon as possible.

Only on February 10, inspector Gohil registered an offence by taking suo motu cognisance of the incident. "But not the residents. Even after I had registered the case the people of Shikhar had not a word of anger for Shah, they kept meeting him, demanding immediate relief, alternative shelter," he says.

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Reliance union leader assaulted in Surat Monday, March 5, 2001

SURAT: Internal rivalry between groups of workers over the issue of holding employees' union election in the Hazira-based Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) took an ugly turn on Friday when union leader Subhas Patel was assaulted by members of other rival group.

Patel was reportedly assaulted by the rival group members on Friday night and was admitted to the New Civil Hospital. He is said to have suffered minor injuries in the fisticuffs, sources in the city police said.

Sources in the RIL said that the present body of the elected office-bearers had some problem with employees of other group over the dates of holding the election, which ultimately led to heated arguments among the various factions of employees belonging to different trade unions.

Following the incident, workers abandoned their shifts in the Hazira plant and later submitted a memorandum to the district collector and the commissioner of police on Saturday.

Commissioner of police Vineet Kumar Gupta told The Times of India that the police have arrested three persons after registering a case in this regard. The matter appeared to be an internal one and the concerned authorities have been trying for reconciliatory measures, said a district official.

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