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March 3, 2001 - March 3, 2001

Concrete evidence leaves for lab Saturday, March 3, 2001

AHMEDABAD: At least 35 tonnes of concrete which will serve as evidence to nail errant builders, was shipped under heavy security to the National Council of Cement and Building Material on Friday afternoon.

Police officials are treating it like a top secret data and have refused to disclose its exact destination, fearing sabotage. At least thirty armed and unarmed guards along with two escort vehicles accompanied the four truckloads of concrete, mortar and iron.

The entire consignment was sealed and videographed at the police headquarters and then loaded on to trucks. There were at least 300 samples, top sources told TOI wherein some of the samples weighed up to 250 kg.

"The NCCBM has agreed to treat those cases where there were more deaths on top priority basis, and is likely to send in reports by mid-April," an official disclosed. The police believe that by then, the builders would have been arrested.

This being the first investigation of its kind on such a massive scale, Kutch and Surat are learnt to have also sought information from Ahmedabad police on methods of going about with such investigations, sources said.

The Surat police are learnt to have sent samples of construction material to the laboratory of the Gujarat Engineering Research Institute (GERI) for investigation.

The state government is expected to spend over Rs 1 crore on investigations alone, say sources.

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Plea to allocate Narmada water to Porbander Saturday, March 3, 2001

RAJKOT: Former MP of Porbander Balwant Manvar has demanded that the state government give water from the Narmada project to Porbander, Upleta, Ranavav, Kutiyana and others areas.

Manvar, on Friday, reasoned that if Rajkot, Gondal and Jetpur could get water by March 31 then why could these areas not be supplied water from the same project. He said the Porbander areas were also semiarid and had no alternate source of water.

He said the reservoirs in the region had gone dry and water had to be supplied through tankers. In such a situation, water from the Narmada would help tide over the situation. "If the pipeline could be taken to Dhoraji, then Porbander was not very far off and it would not entail a huge expenditure," he added.

The former MP threatened that if this project was not taken up in right earnest, the people of the region could resort to peaceful agitation. He alleged that though the region was in the grip of a drought, no action was taken to either start relief work or plan drinking water supply.

Manvar said that many people had lost their employment and had been forced to migrate. Unless the government took up relief measures, people would not return to their homes, he said.

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Police slow in collecting evidences in Race Course Park case Saturday, March 3, 2001

RAJKOT: Apparently acting under pressure from the political bosses, the Rajkot police are going slow in collecting vital evidences of poor construction material used in the building of Race Course Park complex which allegedly has the name of Ketan Vala, son of state finance minister Vajubhai Vala, associated with it.

Almost a week after a police complaint was filed by the residents, the police are unable to collect any single concrete evidence that could be taken to the court of law. On the other hand, they have allegedly continued with terrorising the residents to withdraw the complaint as soon as possible.

Informed sources said that the Gujarat Engineering Research Institute (GERI) was also not going ahead with the collection of building material which could nail the culprits, including Sheth Builders, business partners of Vajubhai Vala.

A belief is fast gaining ground among the residents that the police and other officials are trying to sweep the entire probe under the carpet.

Interestingly, though Vajubhai Vala represents the people of the constituency, he has not bothered to visit them after the quake.

Race Course Park Parivar president Rajendrasinh Gohil alleges that the police are using intimidating tactics to terrorise the residents who had lodged a complaint against Ketan Vala. On the other hand, the investigating officer of the Pradyumannagar police station, Dighubha Vaghela, says that so far statements of 15 residents have been taken. The completion certificate from the Rajkot Municipal Corporation is also being procured, he says.

Gohil said that some of the residents who had left their flats and gone to safer places had started returning, only to find their units in poor condition. Almost 110 families had moved out of the flats following the quake.

In fact, in the case of block number 12, the entire bedroom could be seen from the terrace.

It has also been found that the electrical wires and switches used in the flats are of poor quality.

The builders' assurance to flat owners on providing a common plot also stands exposed as instead 330 flats have been constructed on the designated plot, says Gohil.

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Texturising units forced to close down Saturday, March 3, 2001

SURAT: Failure to observe 'no production' by some of the texturising units in response to a call given by South Gujarat Texturisers Association (SGTU) to cut down production in the wake of prevailing recession took an ugly turn on Thursday when the association members forced the operating units to close down and also burnt their stock of raw materials. The association members had made surprise visits to these units on Thursday evening.

Speaking to The Times of India, president of SGTU Dhrubhai Shah said that the decision to curtail the production by keeping the units closed for four days in the beginning of the month and then for another four days during the month was taken by all the texturising units in the city.

However, on being informed that some of the units were operating as usual, members of the association made surprise visits to these units and forced them to close down, he said.

In the ensuing arguments, raw materials of the operating units were also burnt, disclosed a member of the association.

The situation is likely to worsen with the recession-hit textile units, as some of the units were reported to keep their units open despite the call by the association.

It may be recalled that over five lakh powerloom weaving units recently cut down their production by one third and have resorted to only two working shifts. As a result, the texturising units too were affected with cut in the supply of their raw materials from the weaving units, said Shah.

Also see: Trying times for textile processing units

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Morbi-Wankaner gauge conversion completed Saturday, March 3, 2001

RAJKOT: The Rajkot division of the Western Railway has completed the gauge conversion work on the Morbi-Dahisara-Wankaner line. Goods train have started running on trial basis on the new track while passenger traffic would start later. Plans are also afoot to start the rail-bus service, suspended following the conversion work, on the route.

Sources told this correspondent on Friday that with the completion of gauge conversion work, Kutch had been brought on the national rail map and a direct link with Bhuj had been established. So far it was connected through a meter gauge line.

The sources said goods traffic comprising imported coal and salt would be conducted on the new line. Besides, imported goods and heavy machinery coming from the various ports in the region would also go upto Wankaner, for onward transportation through the Mumbai-Delhi mainline.

The new line would give a boost to the container traffic and would also lessen the dependence on road traffic, the sources added.

Meanwhile, the Navlakhi line, which had been badly damaged in the recent quake, would take another three to four months to become operational.

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