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March 2, 2001 - March 3, 2001

Jasdan legislator threatens fast Saturday, March 3, 2001

RAJKOT: Jasdan legislator Kuverji Bavaliya, on Friday, threatened fast in front of the mamlatdar's office if the district authorities failed to make arrangements for fodder, water and relief works in the drought-affected Jasdan taluka.

Bavaliya said that in case the state government and the district administration failed to solve the problem by March 4, he would sit on fast in front of the mamlatdar's office. And even after this the issue was not resolved, he would undertake indefinite fast in front of the Rajkot collector's office from March 8.

Talking to this correspondent, Bavaliya said Jasdan was gripped by drought for the second consecutive year and despite the serious position on fodder and water fronts, the district administration had failed to solve the miseries of the people.

He said many people had migrated to other places in search of food and work. Though the government had announced that relief work would be started immediately, so far not a single relief work had been allocated to Jasdan, Bavaliya alleged.

People had to walk miles to get a pot of water and there was no fodder for the animals, he said.

Bavaliya said that despite severe water crisis, only two tankers were sanctioned.

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Woman commits suicide due to tremor stress. Friday, March 2, 2001

RAJKOT, MAR 1: A 25-year-old woman committed suicide in the city on Wednesday morning. Jayshree Mayur Dave hung herself from her dupatta at her residence in Junction Plot. Her relatives say she took the extreme step as she ``could not cope with the stress caused by the frequent tremors.''
However, the Pradyumanagar police said the reason behind the suicide is still not known. However, according to sources, Jayshree's relatives claimed that she had lost her mental balance after the quake. She was married to Mayur a year back and had no children.

However, the constant tremors scared her into killing herself. She was taken to Civil Hospital where she was declared dead by the doctor on duty.

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Racket in sale of wheat, rice for quake-hit bared Friday, March 2, 2001

RAJKOT: The civil supplies department has unearthed a systematic racket in the sale of a large quantity of wheat and rice meant for the quake-affected people in Wankaner. Wheat in 40 kg gunny bags and rice in 20 kg bags have been seized.

According to civil supplies officer DG Khachar, orders have been issued to take strict action against those involved in selling food items in the blackmarket.

Giving details, Khachar said that Afsana Gruh Udyog Mandli of Wankaner was given contract to distribute wheat and rice among the quake-affected people without charging any money from them. However, all food items were sold off without bringing the same to the fair price shops or office of the Mandli.

When officials of the civil supplies department raided the godown of the Mandli, they found 40 bags of wheat and 20 bags of rice stored there. Officials said action would be taken against the Mandli.

The first phase of distribution of essential items has been completed in the quake-affected Wankaner taluka. Each family was provided 20 kg of wheat and five kg of rice free of cost. In Morbi taluka, 60 per cent distribution work has been completed.

The civil supplies department has distributed 3,168 metric tonnes of wheat and 750 metric tonnes of rice among people in Rajkot. Earlier, 23,000 ration kits were given free of cost.

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'Quake burden will affect development projects' Friday, March 2, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: The huge expenditure the state government will be incurring on rehabilitation of the earthquake-hit Kutch and other parts of Saurashtra will badly hit the developmental projects of Gujarat, including the ambitious Narmada project and the much publicised Vision-2010 mooted for social welfare.

A senior bureaucrat associated with the relief and rehabilitation of Kutch said, "More than 30 to 35 per cent of the state government's projects for health, education and other core sectors would be badly hit as the budgetary allocations made for various schemes would be diverted to relief and rehabilitation for which the state government has demanded Rs 22,000 crore from the central government."

The situation has worsened further as finance minister Yashwant Sinha has not make any budgetary provisions. Not only that, Sinha is also mum over a scheme suggested by BJP national vice-president Jana Krishnamurthy to raise at least Rs 18,000 to Rs 20,000 crore from income tax payers for earthquake victims.

Named the Earthquake Relief Deposit scheme, the scheme envisages that all income tax payers - both individuals and corporates - deposit one per cent of their annual taxable income for the next three years in a nationalised bank. While they will get a tax rebate on this they will not get any interest on this sum. After three years, money will be returned in three annual instalments. Through this the government would raise the required amount of Rs 20,000.

According to a rough estimate the state government would have to shell out a major chunk of its annual plan of Rs 7,000 crore earmarked for developmental work towards proposed rehabilitation of quake-ravaged parts of Kutch, Rajkot, Surendranagar, Banaskantha and Ahmedabad.

"More than 30 to 35 per cent of government projects and welfare schemes of various departments would suffer because of paucity of funds. This will continue not only in the current year but even next two to three years," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The diversion of funds for the rehabilitation will also adversely affect the Narmada project. The state government would be able to raise the height of the dam once it has adequate funds.

The financial position will be precarious in the coming six months as it would have to pay a whopping Rs 700 to Rs 800 crore per month as debt service charges on World Bank and the Asian Development Bank borrowings.

At present, the government was paying around Rs 300 to Rs 400 crore every month to these institutions. And with the additional loan, the state would have to pay around Rs 1,200 crore to World Bank and ADB as instalments and interest.

In these circumstances, if the state government did not raise new avenues of income the heavy financial burden on the state would have a telling effect on its finances.

However, finance minister Vajubhai Vala is confident that the government would manage by introducing drastic cut in non-planned expenditure.

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Trying times for textile processing units Friday, March 2, 2001

SURAT: The proposed introduction of ad valorem duty on textile processing houses in place of the existing chamberwise compound levy in the annual Budget has come as a blow to the recession-hit textile industry in the city. This comes despite a plea to the Union ministry of finance to let the compound levy system continue at least for the next five years, or till such time as value added tax is introduced at the central and state levels.

With reduction of custom duty on imported fabrics by two per cent, the imported goods would have better competitive prospects as compared to the locally produced ones, Federation of Indian Art Silk Weaving Industry chairman Arun Jariwala said.

On the other hand, the demand for reduction in the excise duty on polyester-oriented yarn (POY) from 32 to 16 per cent was also not welcomed. He said this would make it difficult to compete against imported goods.

It may be recalled that in order to put a curb on duty evasion, compound levy system had been in force in processing houses for the past few years, and the excise duty used to be calculated on the basis of the production capacity of chambers in these processing houses.

Now, by reverting to the ad valorem system, the industry has again been put in the dock as frequent changes in the mode of duty imposition retards growth of industry in general, said South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Bharat Gandhi.

Duty structure should be linked to a chain system in this industry where several stages of productions were required to get finished products. Any structure not uniform tended to destabilise the growth of the industry, Gandhi remarked.

Proposed chamberwise duty imposition replacing the compound levy system would have been without any aberrations if some uniform duty on the basis of weight of the basic raw material like polyester chips had been introduced, he asserted.

From the chips to finished products, several in-between industrial units are involved, the existing system of compound levy system on the basis of production in the chambers of the processing houses would have been the best corrective measures not only for the industry, but also it would have helped to curb duty evasion, Gandhi said.

However, the proposed reduction in customs duty on specified textile machinery and spare parts from 15 to 5 per cent would benefit the industry, South Gujarat Texturisers Association general secretary SS Yadav said.

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