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March 5, 2001 - March 5, 2001

Tough time ahead for MS University administration Monday, March 5, 2001

VADODARA: The MS University administration is likely to face a tough time with the University Grants Commission taking a strong note of alleged violation of norms while promoting at least 19 teachers.

Sources in the MSU syndicate and academia said that most promotions were made before October 2000, that is before the UGC observer visited the university for scrutiny of appointments.

While the MSU administration has countered the allegation saying there was no violation in any appointments or promotions under the career advancement scheme, those who have dragged the university to the UGC court and filed a written complaint to chairman Hari Gautam said that rules were indeed violated.

A document that has been submitted to Gautam and the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development mentions a list of such promotions with dates and the nature of violation. According to the document submitted on June 6, 2000, Ninaz Ankleshwaria of the faculty of home science's food and nutrition department was rejected professorship despite having a Ph.D with publications and 15 years of teaching experience.

On June 23, during an interview for promotion of a teacher in the psychology department, one of the experts on the interview panel was of the reader category. On July 7, 2000, Bharti Parikh, who is Ph.D and has publications to her credit, and NK Dakorwala, who also has a Ph.D with publications and 15 years of teaching experience, were rejected.

JP Vyas of the geography department with Ph.D, publications and 15 years of teaching experience was rejected on June 7, 2000. On June 14, RC Shah and JS Bandukwala (both Ph.D holders with publications to their credit) of the physics department were rejected. Experts on the interview panel for these two readers were retired professors of the same department. On July 18, 2000, the expert panel to interview readers aspiring for professorship had one retired professor of the department and a Ph.D holder who had completed his thesis under him.

The list further mentions that on July 11, RJ Shah of the history department with no publications was selected as a professor. Others on the selected lists were teachers from the business economics department of the commerce faculty--Geetanjali Parikh (no publications), MR Vyas (no Ph.D or publications), VG Vyas (no Ph.D and working experience in the engineering faculty) and Ashok Hingorani (no publications) of the business administration department. Hingorani's appointment was made on July 31 while business economics appointments were made on May 8, 2000.

The list mentions that NL Singh of the physics department was selected despite being chargesheeted in a case of research plagiarism. BN Kahar, who had not completed the requisite eight years, was also selected on July 15, 2000.

Senior MSU administrators, however, refuted the charges saying that selections were in keeping with the UGC norms and strictly on the merit of candidates. "Appointments had been passed by the syndicate. The job of the university administration is to endorse the selection made by the department or the faculty selection committee comprising experts," said pro vice-chancellor VD Pathak.

It was learnt that syndicate members II Pandya, Casim Unia and Nilesh Shukla played a major role in exposing to the UGC what they termed as "fraud." The university administration should forget its inclinations and take stern action against the guilty and set an example that MSU still holds the reputation of being a great university," said Shukla. "I stand by the allegations. A UGC probe is required. It will amply clear who has wronged," said Pandya.

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Incorporate escape routes in design of buildings: Jay Narayan Vyas Monday, March 5, 2001

VADODARA: Former state minister for Narmada and major irrigation projects Jay Narayan Vyas has said escape routes or emergency exits should be incorporated in the basic design of a building.

He was speaking at a function jointly organised by the MSU Civil Engineering Department Alumni Association and Indian Institute of Engineers (Vadodara chapter) at faculty of technology and engineering on Saturday.

He said that the engineering institutes and research centres in state should work in the direction of producing a document or manual on earthquake, covering all aspects of the disaster, especially earthquake resistant structures.

"This earthquake has thrown some important pointers. It is time to re-look at the existing practice of construction," Vyas said.

He said that most buildings does not have provision for escape routes. "Escape routes should be a part of basic design. Even today most buildings don't have escape routes. Efforts should also be made to educate people how to act in time of crises," he said.

In a terse address to the civil engineering alumni and FTE students, he observed that 70 per cent of structures in Ahmedabad collapsed due to the ground condition. "Soil science was neglected while laying foundations of most of the buildings that collapsed in Ahmedabad. Besides, some structural engineers turned innovative and invented hollow plinths (columns not supported by walls or sheer walls), slab beams and floating columns ignoring basic science of civil engineering," Vyas said.

He made a special mention about staircases saying that engineering fundamentals were thrown to the wind while providing staircases in many buildings. Talking about swimming pools on terraces, he said that there were still many buildings in Ahmedabad having swimming pools on the 12th floor.

He pointed out that while private buildings suffered extensive damage during the quake, those built by government and often subjected to criticism stood intact. "While private builders in their greed to up a structure at cheaper cost ignore basic elements of engineering, in government structures the construction is implemented through three-four tiers of administration. Somewhere in this tier system you have one good engineer who ensures proper construction," he said.

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Migrant labourers become easy prey in fake currency racket. Monday, March 5, 2001

SURAT: Had it not been the refusal to accept the somewhat differently looking currency note of Rs 100 denomination by the provision store keeper offered by one labourer at Kosamba on Feb 16, perhaps the racket dealing in counterfeit notes would still have persisted in the city and other district areas.

The tip-off from the shopkeeper led the local police to nab the mastermind Harish Dhula Patel and his 14 associates so far from the Varachha area of the city. Fake notes amounting to about Rs 6 lakh had also been recovered from them.

Disclosing the modus operandi, Surat district rural police superintendent K L N Rao told The Times of India that the gang operated in a planned manner. First to produce the fake notes of Rs 100 and Rs 50 denominations and then targeting the illiterate workers, on the outskirts of the city, who can't make out the difference between the real and the fake ones.

Rao said that Patel, a medical compounder but known as doctor among the locals at Varachha, was arrested by the city police for the same offence in March last year but when released from the jail, he again got into the fake notes racket.

Interrogations revealed that real notes of Rs 100 and Rs 50 in series of numbers ending with 01 to 020 were photocopied on coloured photocopy machines and then on each note a silver line was drawn using a pen to make it look 'authentic', Rao said.

The currency notes were then packed with bands or threads serially to make it look more genuine. He said the middlemen who could arrange for transacting the fake notes were given commission for the services. The associates of Patel would then find out persons, in need of money, to whom the fake notes are given in exchange of an amount in real currency but at half the figure printed on the fake ones, he said.

The business of fake currency have been going on in the city and in other parts of the district, in which the poor workers who are not sharp enough to make out the difference between the real and fake notes, unknowingly become easy conduits, Rao said.

It is feared that there could be several such organised gangs in the city engaged in such rackets. A massive operation have been launched by the rural and city police in the district, said a senior police official. Only a few days back, the city police nabbed three persons reportedly dealing in fake currency notes of Rs 500 denominations.

Looking at the way the gang operated, it could be a matter of detailed investigations to unearth similar gangs but often the floating migrant labour population in this city being the target group for transaction of fake currency notes, the information often did not surface, Rao said.

Moreover, to verify the authenticity of the notes is often difficult, as infra-red machines operational in some of the banks in the city only could identify the fake ones, Rao said.

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Foreign medicine, medical kits for quake-hit siphoned off Monday, March 5, 2001

RAJKOT: The mamlatdar of Mandvi in Kutch district on Friday sealed a house in which as many as 24 Japanese Red Cross medical kits were kept.

The kits had reportedly originated from a doctor in Mota Asambiya village in Mandvi taluka. The doctor initially said the imported medicines were given to him by the Red Cross. But he was not able to prove it with documents.

According to the trustees of the Mota Asambiya Jain Mahajan, Amrutlal Gada, Bipin Gada and Vinod Gogri, the entire issue came to light when a truck bearing registration number GJ 12 U 5297 came to the village with 60 containers and a doctor claimed that he had called for it.

The Jain Mahajan leaders got suspicious and asked the driver to take the consignment back to the Bhuj Red Cross office. While the truck went away, the leaders went all the way to Bhuj to inquire whether the truck had returned. They were told that it had not returned and had instead went back to the village.

As the leaders were returning to the village, they noticed the truck and asked it to stop. To their dismay, they found that as many as many as 24 containers were missing and the rest were in the truck. The driver said that the containers were off loaded at the village by the doctor.

The issue was taken up with Suresh Mehta, the mamlatdar of Mandvi, who rushed to the spot and seized the goods.

The villagers said that some of the doctors had been receiving large quantities of foreign medicines which were being used in most of the villages. They alleged that a systematic racket was going on in this regard.

Red Cross officials said that their job was to direct the medicines and bandages to the villages which still had patients and that they were unaware that the medicines were siphoned off from in-between and sold outside.

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'Those substandard construction not to be spared' says BJP general secretary. Monday, March 5, 2001

RAJKOT: Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary Gordhan Zadaphia said on Saturday that that no one, including BJP men, would be spared if they were found guilty in building substandard houses which collapsed in the recent quake.

Talking to reporters at the two-day party executive meet at Paras Hall here, the BJP leader said, "The party would not tolerate any man-made calamity. The law will take its own course in dealing with such elements."

Asked whether that meant action against Vala as his son Ketan was also involved in construction of substandard houses at Race Course Park here, the BJP leader said, "I do not want to take any names but I can assure you that justice will be done to the affected people."

When probed further as to why was the police dilly-dallying in collection of evidences against the builders in Rajkot while at the same time they were arresting builders in Ahmedabad, Zadaphia said, "Action will be taken against all those found guilty".

The BJP leader tried his level best to evade answers to questions related to the quake and the failure of the state machinery in relief and rescue operations. In reply to a question about reports of some BJP leaders themselves taking away relief material meant for quake-affected people, Zadaphia said, "The party would take strict action against any leader who took away relief material". At the same time, he was not ready to believe that his partymen had swindled off some of the relief material meant for Morbi and Maliya areas.

On the issue of raw deal given to the state in the Union Budget despite the chief minister utterance that getting money from the Centre would not be a problem, the state general secretary said, "We will still ask for more money from the Centre and the best way is to take whatever comes your way and still ask for more."

Taking a complete U-turn on the chief minister's statement that 8 lakh houses would be built for the quake-affected by June 30, Zadaphia said, "Keshubhai never said that the houses would be built. He had only said that some temporary shelter would be provided to the people before monsoon and that includes just some RCC construction at the base and a tin shed as roof."

Denying that the party had failed in timely starting of relief and rescue operations during the quake, Zadaphia said that the time had come for the party to chalk out its course of action for the second round, that of rehabilitation of the victims. A detailed plan would be prepared at the end of the two-day deliberation as to how the BJP as a party could help in undertaking the mammoth task of rehabilitation, he added.

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