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February 28, 2001 - February 28, 2001

Temblor leaves scars on psyche of many families Wednesday, February 28, 2001

MEHSANA: Even as buildings or houses have survived the R-Day temblor and its aftershocks, many families in Mehsana district have been left scared for having lost their near and dear ones or for anguish of nursing or supporting the disabled.

A large number of people of this district had been serving in various parts of the quake-ravaged Kutch in government departments or private companies. A majority of them were serving as school teachers. Besides, more than 40 per cent students living in Adipur were from Mehsana.

A survivor of the quake which flattened the Polytechnic College hostel, Paresh Patel, said that nearly 30 students were killed and more than half of them were from Mehsana. Paresh was on morning walk. When he returned, he found his hostel razed to the ground. He managed to reach Mehsana by hitch hiking. The shall-shocked student took more than a week to recover from the nightmare.

Sixty-year-old Dahiben Kalubhai Raval of Dhinoj, about ten km from here, lost her 26-year-old son Arvind in the quake near Bhachau. She had gone to Samakhiali with her son to meet her daughter who was a teacher in a primary school. Recalling the Black Friday, Dahiben said sobbingly that her daughter and son-in-law had gone to the school to attend the flag-hoisting ceremony and she had just come out of the house when the quake struck. Her son was sitting on a cot in the house. When she looked back, she found the stone house had crashed, burying her son alive.

The old widow seems to be a jinxed woman. Her first son was killed in an accident. The second had succumbed to an electric shock and on January 26 her last hope, Arvind, was swallowed by the temblor.

A young boy of Kalri in Becharaji taluka struggled for more than 60 hours before death overpowered him. A student of third semester of engineering at Adipur, Ranjeet had gone to Aghoi in Bhachau taluka to meet his maternal uncle who was a policeman.

On the Republic Day, when Ranjeet's uncle had gone to attend the flag-hoisting ceremony at police ground, quake struck and the entire Aghoi was reduced to rubble within a wink burying Ranjeet and his nephew. A team of Rapid Action force (RAF), which arrived there the next day, found Ranjeet alive with his nephew lying dead in his arms.

The RAF men retrieved Ranjeet alive as soon as they got a crane without which it was not possible to remove the rubble. They gave water, tea and some breakfast to Ranjeet and tried to keep his spirits from sagging. They tried to contact the administration for a crane to remove the rubble to extricate Ranjeet. But the crane did not come and Ranjeet succumbed to his injuries after the tremor of January 28 which brought more rubble on dying Ranjeet.

ML Chaturvedi, a retired railway guard, had gone to Gandhidham with his wife to attend a marriage ceremony. He had celebrated his birthday on January 25 on the second floor of his friend's flat. Narratinag his nightmare, Chaturvedi told this reporter that when the room he was sitting in began to rock, he thought it was because of bombardment by the Pakistani Air Force. Soon he realised it was an earthquake and tried to rush out to the staircase where he fell and found everything engulfed in the dark cloud of dust. When he opened his eyes, he found himself buried under rubble of the apartment. He was lucky that he could come out of the heap with bruises. Though Chaturvedi is recovering from the shock and responding to the treatment, he would find it difficult to forget the nightmare.

Chimanlal Prabhudas Parmar of Kuvasana in Visnagar taluka was teaching at a primary school at Nana Aandhav (Jeenvasan), 80 km from Bhuj. He is one of those survivors who had a close shave with death and managed to reach here. Chimanlal along with other teachers had gone to nearby Mota Aandhav village to take part in the Republic Day celebrations. At 8.50 am, when the earth began to rock, he thought Pakistani forces had bombarded the area. Soon the entire area was engulfed by a huge cloud of dust and the earth cracked up.

He and many others fell on the ground and saw houses crumbling like packs of cards. Parmar began to run with another teacher for safety. He came to Khavda and found the earth had caved in and water had sprung up at many places. A heap of dead bodies were lying scattered. After spending three days in the open, Parmar came to Bhuj and later Ahmedabad with three badly injured victims who were brought to Visnagar. He admitted the quake victims to the Civil Hospital in Visnagar. He said Khavda had experienced tremors in January and December last year. Returning from very close to the epicentre of the quake, he has not been able to get over the trauma.

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Plan outlay for power utilities raised to Rs 10,030 crore Wednesday, February 28, 2001

NEW DELHI (Narad Online): Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha while presenting the 2001-02 Budget announced in Lok Sabha today that plan outlay for central power utilities is being raised to Rs 10,030 crore for 2001-02 from Rs 9,194 crore this year.

Sinha said the importance of power in fuelling economic growth could not be over emphasised, adding the total cost to state electricity boards (SEBs) of implicit subsidies amounted to about Rs 36,000 crore this year and actual commercial losses of all SEBs combined are estimated to be about Rs 24,000 crore.

On the National Highway Development Programme (NHDP), he said Rs 962 crore from the cess fund is being made available to states for state roads. The total outlay for this sector is being enhanced by 93 per cent to Rs 8727 crore in 2001-02, the Finance Minister said

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Interest rate on small savings reduced Wednesday, February 28, 2001

NEW DELHI (Narad Online): Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha while presenting the 2001-02 Budget announced in Lok Sabha today that interest rate on small saving schemes would be reduced .5 per cent from tomorrow, adding that government guarantees and tax incentives for these schemes would however continue.

The benefit of reduction in interest rate on small savings deposit will be fully passed on to the states, the Finance Minister said, adding that interest rates on loan portions of central assistance to state plans was being reduced by 50 basis point.

Sinha said a high level group would be set up to review the existing pension system and to provide a road map for the next steps.

Those who enter central government services after October 1 2001 would receive pension through a new pension programme based on a defined contribution.

Facility of LTC to Central Government employees have been suspended for two years, he said adding standard licence fee on government accommodation was being enhanced from April 1, this year.

The Minister said he is providing Rs 4243 crore towards the incentive fund to encourage states to implement monitorable fiscal reforms, saying that devolution of central taxes to states was expected to increase by nearly Rs 9000 crore in the coming year.

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US Indian group to raise Rs 100 crore for Kutch Wednesday, February 28, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Some leading Indian entrepreneurs settled in the US and associated with The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE) have set up a new organisation-the American India Foundation(AIF)-to launch relief and rehabilitation programmes on a big scale in the quake- ravaged Kutch region in the next few months.

America's former president Bill Clinton is an important member of the AIF's core group which has began formulating plans for an integrated development of villages. Clinton will visit Kutch at the instance of the TIE and the newly-formed AIF.

To begin with, the AIF plans to take up reconstruction of at least 40 villages in the worst-affected Bhuj and Bhachau talukas which were visited by a team of the TIE.

Kailash Joshi, who led an eight-member team of the TIE from America, told The Times of India on his return from Bhuj, "We are going to help the quake victims in a big way. An amount of Rs 100 crore would be spent on different projects, including housing, health care and social welfare."

The idea behind formation of the AIF was involvement of Indians living in the US in development of our country. There was tremendous response among Indians to help out when they heard about the calamity, said Joshi.

"Clinton has shown keen interest in the formation of such group to strengthen relations between the two nations. During an informal discussion in America on the proposed rehabilitation plan, Clinton spent over six hours," he said.

On the scenario in Bhuj, Joshi said, "It's a matter of pride that Kutchis are busy rebuilding their life without waiting for assistance from elsewhere. We saw schoolchildren learning lessons under tents and artisans buying necessary tools to restart work."

The AIF has appointed renowned technical consultants, McKenzie. On the basis of feasibility report, rehabilitation work would be taken up.

"At this stage, we have no knowledge regarding construction of school buildings or drinking water projects but all problems would be sorted out soon,"said Joshi.

For fund-raising, meetings will be organised at several places in America from March 2. The first one is slated in California on March 2 and the next will be held in New York on March 10.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad general secretary Pravin Togadia said that support of the NRIs, mainly members of the TIE, was received after more than 4,000 e-mail messages were flashed from the VHP's Delhi and other chapters when quake rocked the Kutch region.

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New water time table for Rajkot Wednesday, February 28, 2001

RAJKOT: The Rajkot Municipal Corporation has announced a new time table for supply of drinking water in the city from March 1 to 31.

Water would be supplied on every third day as all sources have dried and the city is dependant on the Wankaner bore.

The new time table is:

Jubilee zone-1 ward 13, 15 and 16: Supply dates are 1,3,6,8,10,12,15,17,19,22,24,26,28 and 31.

Jubilee zone-2 ward 1, 2 and 3: Supply dates are 2,4,7,9,11,14,16,18,20,23,25,27and 30.

Gurukul zone-1, western parts of railway track, ward 7 and 10: Supply dates are 2,4,6,8,11,13,15,18,20,22,24,27,29and 31.

Gurukul zone-2, eastern parts of railway track, ward 2,4,6,8 and 9: Supply dates are 3,5,7,10,12,14,16,19,21,23,26,28 and 30.

Nyari sone-1, ward 10,12,14,22,23 and 24: Supply dates are 2,5,7,9,12,14,16,18,21,23,25,28 and 30.

Nyari zone-2, ward 9,11,13 and 21: Supply dates are 1,4,6,8,10,11,13,15,17,20,22,24,26,29 and 31.

Aji zone 18, ward 4,6 and 5: Supply dates are 1,3,4,8,10,12,14,17,19,21,22,24,26,28 and 30.

Aji zone 30, ward 17,18,19 and 20: Supply dates are 2,4,6,9,11,13,16,18,20, 22, 25,27 and 29.

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