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November 9, 2001 - November 9, 2001

Road show on power reforms Friday, November 9, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
The two-day first road show on 'Mission 2012 Power For All' that ended here on Wednesday, called for efficient use of power and prevention of power theft.

The Union power ministry and the Power Grid Corporation of India, Vadodara/Dahegam had organised this show.

Director ministry of power Shailesh and deputy general manager Power Grid deliberated on topics like importance of power in daily life, power scenario, steps to improve commercial viability and power sector reforms.

The aim of government of India is to provide reliable, affordable and quality power to all by 2012. So it has introduced 'Accelerated Power Development Programme' (APDP) to enhance operational efficiency of generating stations and upgrading T&D networks.

In the first phase, 60 distribution circles have been identified for development of distribution plans as centre of excellence. It will also ensure that state government subsidies are given in advance to SEBs to avoid financial crunch. Energy conservation Bill 2001 has been passed by the Lok Sabha.

It was stated that electricity theft alone causes an estimated loss of Rs 20,000 crores annually. If curbed the same amount can be utilised in positive investment.

Mayor Bharti Vyas, home science dean Anupama Shah, GEB SE Venu Gopal Rao ONGC general manager Amjad Hussain L&T's R Mohan and Lions Club's Bharat Shah were all associated with the show.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]



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Meeting on medical aspects of quake Friday, November 9, 2001

HMEDABAD: Let the world learn a lesson or two from the way Gujarat handled the massive challenge of providing emergency medical treatment to over three lakh people injured in the January 26 earthquake. Perhaps, there are more don'ts to learn from the experience than do's.

This is the aim of the three-day inter-state meeting on Gujarat Earthquake-Health Sector Perspective organised by the state government and World Health Organisation. It began on Tuesday and its recommendations will be sent to all states and quake-prone countries of the world through voluntary agencies.

In the first session on trauma care and epidemiology on Wednesday, the lack of a local contingency plan was pointed out by doctors from Kutch. Obviously, the break-down of power for three days with no back-up of generators must have posed a big handicap for the doctors to provide round-the-clock advanced medical care.

"Kutch was lucky in that the bridge and the air-strip were not destroyed and so reaching help was not delayed. But a local contingency plan has been strongly advocated so that relief operations can begin without having to wait for the machinery to gear up and reach help", WHO representative Bipin Verma said.

Breakdown of supply and distribution network was also discussed wherein Columbian expert George Louise Perez suggested that Supply Management be established to ensure better distribution of relief material in the wake of a disaster.

Heath secretaries and commissioners of Himachal Pradesh, Maharshtra, Rajasthan and other states and members of international voluntary agencies like American Red Cross, International Federation for Red Cross, Catholic Relief, UNICEF, UNFPA and FICCI are attending the programme.

Earlier, briefing press-men about the seminar, health minister Ashok Bhatt painted a very rosy picture of the way the quake emergency was handled in the state. "By giving prompt medical care, we were able to save many lives. Moreover, the state government should be given full credit for preveting an epidemic, which otherwise follows any disaster of such a magnitude", said Bhatt.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) too was all praise for the state government for its handling of the crisis. "The state government could establish an excellent co-ordination", said country representative of WHO Tej Walia. He referred to the plan to have WHO office in Gandhinagar, for which Bhatt offered land.

Interestingly, when asked what specific lessons learnt during the medical handling of the quake could be discussed, neither the minister nor the WHO representative could give a suitable reply. "The details would be discussed in the seminar", Bhatt said.

When a newsman said that both the organisers were painting only a rosy picture and desisted to say where the government failed or where the machinery could have done better, Bhatt said, "When everything is rosy, why should we not say that".

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]



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People who run system are responsible for debacles: Padma Ramchandran Friday, November 9, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
She got brickbats and bouquets. Her posting as M S University vice-chancellor was termed as an experiment. When she completed her tenure, even her detractors couldn't help complimenting her. Most of all, her tenure was largely categorised as a "non-controversial" one.

Three years after she bid farewell to MSU, Padma Ramchandran, a seasoned bureaucrat, has fond memories of the varsity she served as a vice-chancellor between 1995 and 1998. She shared her views with Times News Network on her brief visit to the city on Wednesday. Excerpts from the interview.

Q: Controversies have become second name of MSU. Of late, it has been observed that the university is becoming a hotbed of politics and politicians instead of being a temple of education. How much did politicians interfere in university affairs during your tenure?

A: Very little, I should say. There was one unfortunate episode concerning a girls hostel warden, and there was tremendous political pressure. However, we had ensured that the university system and the administration were insulated from politics and politicians. We saw to it that politicians don't play around with the system. In fact, I wished there was the right kind of political intervention. There were ample opportunities when Gandhinagar could have played a very significant role. Opportunities that were lost.

There is a general assumption about university system. Many feel it is porous, has loopholes and prone to manipulation. How was your experience?

I feel the university system is foolproof. There are many checks and balances in university system. The vice-chancellor cannot function in isolation. The varsity system ensures that a vice-chancellor does not act like a 'laat sahab'. In MSU, every decision has to be screened at various levels. The syndicate and senate bodies are very active, vigilant and will not allow anything dubious to be passed. They can catch the slightest hint of manipulation. Discrepancies or manipulations can only happen when those who run the system themselves want to indulge in such matters.

Recent controversy of the alleged CAS norms violation for promoting some teachers brought a bad name to the university. It is being alleged that political interference was responsible for these appointments. As a former V-C how do you view this development?

I can say this with confidence that during my time there was not a single appointment which was made because of political compulsion. All appointments were on the basis of merit of the candidate. CAS as such does not have loopholes. The rules of promotion under CAS are crystal clear and cannot be tampered with. If someone tries to tamper it, he or she will be caught.

Do you think the selection criteria adopted to appoint a vice-chancellor is in keeping with the inherent requirements of a university?

The ultimate power to select the V-C after the three-member search committee procedure rests with the state government. This should not be case. For a university the chancellor is the right authority, whose decisions should be considered ultimate instead of the state government. The chancellor is more close to the university and does not have any political compulsion. When a chancellor takes a decision he or she will definitely keep the university's interest supreme. But the same cannot be true for the current authority vested power to make the ultimate choice on V-C.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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Govt cancels license of Bt seed supplier Friday, November 9, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
State agriculture minister Purshottam Rupala on Thursday said the government has initiated legal action against Navbharat Seeds company for allegedly cheating cotton growers by supplying seeds of genetically-engineered cotton in lieu of hybrid cotton. The state seeds certification agency has cancelled the company's license to sell the seeds in Gujarat.

Talking to reporters, the minister said the state was awaiting instructions from the Union government which was seized with this problem. The state government has also sealed the godown of the company.

The minister said though the farmers who cultivated the Bt cotton have confirmed that their yield was far better than hybrid cotton, the state would not allow the cultivation unless it was approved by the Union agriculture ministry which was now conducting scientific study of the adverse effects of the genes of Bt cotton.

The state government had informed the Centre during last month's meeting in New Delhi that Bt cotton was cultivated in four to five districts of Maharashtra, he said.

When asked about the slump in prices of groundnut in Saurashtra, Roopala said the government has already started purchasing the commodity at the minimum support price of Rs 1340 per quintal when the groundnut was available in open market at Rs 1150.

" We are fully aware about the market trends and therefore have fixed the support price for the first time to help provide remunerative prices to the farmers."

The state government, he said, has already started purchasing groundnut through GUJCOMASOL. The government has initially decided to purchase 1,00,000 tonnes from farmers but in view of continuous representation from farmers' bodies including Bhaartiya Kisan Sangh, would now buy an additional 1,00,000 tonne to help the farmers.

The prices of groundnut oil have reduced by Rs 10 per 15 Kg tin as compared to the prices in the corresponding period last year. The edible oil is now available at Rs 35 to Rs 38 per Kg. The minister said the consumption of groundnut oil has reduced significantly as cotton seed and rapseed oils were being preferred to reduce cholesterol.

In Saurashtra region, which is considered the bowl of groundnut, the farmers have started growing cotton in place of groundnut as they were not getting good return in cultivation of groundnut.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]



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CARE downgrades Narmada bond issue Friday, November 9, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
CARE has downgraded the rating assigned to the secured non-convertible Bond issues (series - 1,2,3,4 & 5) of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) aggregating to Rs. 281.50 crores from AA- to A+ subsequent to the implicit rating of Government of Gujarat (GoG) being re-rated at A+.

A CARE press release stated the revenue streams envisaged by SSNNL might not be adequate for servicing its debt obligations. Any shortfall in the payment of interest and repayment of principal on the bonds would be met by GoG under the unconditional and irrevocable guarantee/tripartite agreement. The rating is, therefore, based on the credit
enhancement provided by committed funding support from GoG

The credit risk on the obligations to the bond holders has been reinforced by an unconditional and irrevocable guarantee from Government of Gujarat tripartite agreement entered into with GoG instruments with this rating are considered upper medium grade instruments and have many favourable attributes. Safety for principal and interest are considered adequate. Assumptions that do not materialise may have a greater impact as compared to the instruments rated higher.

CARE has also assigned a A+ rating to the secured non-convertible bond of Rs.100 crore of SSNNL. The bonds carry an unconditional and irrevocable guarantee by GoG for timely payment of interest and repayment of principal.

The rerating of Government of Gujarat is primarily on account of enlargement of the Gross Fiscal Deficit due to expenditure on relief and reconstruction in earthquake affected areas which is expected to continue until 2002-03. The rating is supported by the basic soundness of the state's economic structure, the public sector restructuring and expenditure management already underway and resiliency in GoG's revenues.

SSNNL, wholly owned by GoG, is implementing the Sardar Sarovar project envisaging construction of a terminal concrete gravity dam on river Narmada at Kevadia, District Bharuch. The project will irrigate an area of 18 lakh hectares in Gujarat, 75,000 hectares in Rajasthan and 37,500 hectares in Maharashtra. Besides, it will provide drinking water to 135 urban centres and 8215 villages in Gujarat. It will also have two hydro electric power units with a total generating capacity of 1450 MW.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]



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