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February 25, 2001 - February 26, 2001

Bhavnagar Muncipal Corporation increases water tax Monday, February 26, 2001

BHAVNAGAR: The general body of the Bhavnagar Municipal Corporation on Thursday passed a resolution increasing water tax to the tune of Rs 3.5 crore.

Commissioner PD Vaghela informed the House that last year BMC had earned about Rs 2.7 crore against a total expenditure of Rs 10.6 crore towards supply of drinking water to about 6 lakh residents. Even after the proposed hike in the water tax, the BMC would face an annual deficit of Rs 4.4 crore.

However, the Opposition corporators strongly criticised the move before the resolution was passed by majority vote.

Gujaratis may get 50 seconds to save life from quake Sunday, February 25, 2001

Now its not seismographers but a 150 X 75 X 32 mm instrument could save your life and property from the devastating earthquake. Manufactured by a California-based JDS Products Corporation this gadget will produce metallic beep sound for quake alarm and for this beep means that within 40 to 50 seconds, high-intensity tremors will begin.

Priced at Rs. 2,455 this indicator for which General Imsubs owns the exclusive marketing rights, may hit the market of Ahmedabad within a couple of days. But before its formal launching, bookings have already made and within two days inquiries have passed over 1000 mark, the sources said.

Engineers of General Imsubs says that when the earth shakes during tremor, numerous kinds of waves arise. The first wave which is called P wave is absolutely non-destructive while the R wave causes the most devastation. The two waves are separated by atleast 40 seconds and this instrument can pick up the P wave and the beep sounds come out.

As the device is adjustable, meaning one can adjust the sensitivity level from four to six, every person can set the alarm to go at a stage he feels is dangerous, the engineers say.

According to Kalpak Shah, director of the General Imsubs, the though of an instrument that could prevent panic and mental tension they got in touch with the California based company which sent us some samples. They installed samples at different public places and found effective and accurate. Though it seems a little expensive for some, but it’s worth the lives it will save. "So we have decided to import this device," Shah informed.

Govt fails to assist quake-hit industries Sunday, February 25, 2001

SURAT: Even after almost one month of the killer quake, the Mumbai-based industrialist Chunilal Shah is still running from pillar to post to get his completely destroyed industrial unit, which was to be commissioned shortly for production at Plot No 189 in Lakhond village in Bhuj, assessed by the government agencies for the purpose of seeking assistance from financial institutions.

The January 26 tremor reduced his Rs 4-crore project of manufacturing HDPF woven sacks into heaps of rubble and mangled machines. However, promises by the state government to help rebuild the economy in the quake-hit areas helped him to keep hope for rebuilding his dream project. But failure on the part of the state government, in its Cabinet meeting on Tuesday at Gandhinagar, to chalk out any plan for what concessions the quake-hit industries should be offered to bring the economy back on rails, had proved beyond doubt that the government had failed to live up to its promises, Shah poignantly forwarded.

Even agencies like the District Industries Centre (DIC) at Bhuj and Industries Commissionerate at Gandhinagar lacked the much needed co-ordination for assessment of industries in the quake-hit areas, he remarked.

In view of the upcoming cement company in Kutch, due for production by mid-2001, many ancillary units were being installed in the region and many of them got destroyed in the Republic Day quake, Shah added. Without any economic relief package, it would be impossible to rebuild these units, Shah stated.

Undeterred however, Shah remained hopeful and stayed at the site since Black Friday, endlessly waiting for the government designated assessors to survey the ruins and to assess the financial loss.

The construction of Shah's K C Polytec Ltd at Plot No 189 started in 1997 with a trade agreement with one upcoming cement company in this region for a seven-year buyback of its woven sacks. An investment of nearly Rs 4 crore was already made, before the plant was destroyed on January 26, he said. The disbursement of funds by the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) was to be made from mid-February, for commissioning of the plant, Shah said.

Last week he managed to have an audience with the district collector, Anil Mukim, who in turn assured him with all possible helps. Despite personal requests, nobody turned up from the local DIC to do the assessment of his ruined industry, he said.

Lastly on Sunday, he managed to contact the industries minister Suresh Mehta who then instructed the local officials at DIC to do the survey and to submit the report within a day, Shah informed.

When asked over phone, officials at Industries Commissionerate, Gandhinagar said that the surveys of damaged industries in the quake-hit areas were being done but no specific data was available and no such concrete plan had been approved of as such aiming to get the affected industrial units assisted by the financial institutions.

After more than three weeks, the ruins at Plot No 189 were assessed and on Tuesday a report was submitted. The financial loss estimated as per the report was an assessment done to carry the orders of the minister and not for any specific purpose, as assured by the government to the affected units, Shah alleged.

He said that in his plant, machinery installed at a cost of Rs 1.23 crore was assessed to be only of Rs 10 lakh while a paltry sum of Rs 10,400 was passed against a claim of Rs 18.5 lakh for the destroyed 1,220 sq feet office with equipments like computers, fax machines, telephones and other stationery items.

His protest over under assessment of his destroyed industry fell on deaf ears and his waiting since Black Friday for the helping hands from the government had gone in vain, he said. More than the quake, the lip services of the government agencies were really heart breaking, Shah remarked.

Surat police arrest eight for killings, robberies Sunday, February 25, 2001

SURAT: A telephone call with the caller claiming to have details of a robbery incident at Salabatpura in which a sum of Rs 5 lakh was looted, did the magic for the city police as tracing the call not only led to arrest of seven persons, three of them being murderers, but the informer also turned out to be a robber himself.

The robbery took place in the residence of one Pushkar Gandhi in Salabatpura early this month.

One of arrested is reportedly involved in the killing of former resident editor of Sandesh daily, Vadodara in 1992 while another person being the prime accused involved in the 1993 killing of Dinky Bhujwala in Surat. The rest being the masterminds behind the Rs 5 lakh robbery in Salabatpura early this month.

The arrested have been identified as Raju Thakore, Pravin Wanakwala, Samir Uttekar, Jitendra Kahar (the informer), Suresh Narayan, Manish Modi, Shankar Shinde and Rajnikant Rana.

Talking to The Times of India, police commissioner Vineet Kumar Gupta said that a plan to trace the phone call made by the informer on February 7 at the residence of additional police commissioner V V Rabari led to a trap laid at the house of one Kamlesh Talwar at Salabatpura but the exercise went in vain.

Gupta said the unidentified caller again called up and asked the police to check the autorickshaw where the goods were still stashed. The checking of the autorickshaw led to recovery of the valuables alongwith documents, which were later verified by the owner Pushkar Gandhi.

Meanwhile, the informer once again called up which was traced to be made from a prepaid card on the mobile.

Investigations revealed that the caller was Jeetu Narayan Kahar from Machiwad area who was making the calls alongwith his accomplice Suresh Bahadur Narayan. Interrogations revealed that Jeetu wanted to implicate Kamlesh Talwar against Jeetu's brother-in-law Babusingh Kahar who was recently detained under PASA.

Gupta said Jeetu got in touch with one Raju Pratap Singh and sought his help to put Talwar behind bars. Raju arranged the stolen bag, drafts, account books stolen from Pushkar's house and sold these to Jeetu for Rs 17,000. Jeetu then placed these things under the backseat of the autorickshaw owned by Talwar's brother and made a call to additional commissioner of police Rabari.

Acting on the tip-off, two persons identified as Raju Thakore and Dilip Vankawala were caught with a pistol, one revolver and 19 live cartridges near Begumpura in a combing operation on Tuesday night. Both of them admitted to be involved in two murders and informed the police that the killer of former Sandesh resident editor Dinesh Pathak was also in the city. A trap was then laid and accordingly Uttekar was arrested from his hideout. Further interrogations led to arrest of Manish Modi and Shankar Shinde involved in the Salabatpura robbery case, he said.

Western railway announce special train to clear rush Sunday, February 25, 2001

VADODARA: Vadodara division of the Western Railway will run a tri-weekly holiday special train between Gandhidham and Mumbai Central from Saturday to clear the extra rush. The 959 Holiday Special will leave Mumbai Central every Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 2 pm between February 24 and March 24 and will arrive at Gandhidham at 6.15 am.

The 960 Holiday Special will leave Gandhidham every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 6 pm between February 25 and March 25 and will reach Mumbai Central at 10.45 am.

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