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February 12, 2001 - February 13, 2001

Two moderate intensity tremors rock Bhavnagar Tuesday, February 13, 2001

BHAVNAGAR: Two tremors of moderate intensity hit the city on Sunday, forcing the residents to scurry to the roads.

People rushed out of the houses at 10.37 pm when a tremor having intensity of 2.4 on the Richter scale rocked the city. Telephones went out of order in many parts of the city.

Earlier in the afternoon, the city had experienced another tremor of 1.8 intensity.

Both the tremors were accompanied by a big sound that people of Bhavnagar had often heard during the tremors in last September. Furthermore, non-occurrence of these tremors in Bhuj and Ahmedabad compounded fear of people. According to a meteorology department seismologist camping at the circuit house here, Sunday's tremors could be considered a local activity. Since only single seismograph was installed at Bhavnagar, it was difficult to locate the epicentre, he added.

A Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute scientist opined that the revival of local seismic activity after a lapse of four months confirmed that a fault line near Bhavnagar had again become active.

Another expert lamented that the department of meteorology in New Delhi was not paying much attention to the constant seismic activity in Bhavnagar region.

Advani gives clean chit to Keshubhai Monday, February 12, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Union home minister L K Advani on Sunday said:``There was no question of any change in the state leadership" for its handling of the rescue and relief operations in the state which was badly ravaged by the high-intensity earthquake on Republic Day.

Advani, who arrived here on his fifth visit to Gujarat since January 26, scoffed at the opposition demand for sacking of the BJP government. He said the state administration had made all out efforts to deal with the catastrophe in whatever best possible manner it could.

He said it was extremely difficult task to manage the natural calamity of the high magnitude, which had covered not only one or two pockets but a huge area. But the government has not left any stone unturned to rescue people who were trapped inside the collapsed houses.``Several foreign NGOs and disaster relief teams have expressed their satisfaction on the arrangements being made by the state government in this hour of crisis ,"he said.

The home minister said he has sought details of the negligence, if any, on the part of builders and developers from the state government. The Centre has taken a serious view of the buildings constructed by one builder which caved in some parts of Ahmedabad city.

``The Union government will after assessment of various tests of the samples of the construction materials collected from various sites, decide on future course of action to punish the builders." He added:``We will also look into whether the builders had indulged in violation of building bye-laws and, if so, the Centre would not hesitate to make necessary changes in the existing laws and provide for stringent measures against such builders."

Advani, who represents Gandhinagar constituency in Lok Sabha, asserted that the BJP government deserved appreciation as the administration had swung into action within few hours of the killer earthquake shook Bhuj and several other towns of Kutch and Saurashtra.

The Centre, he said, has promptly rushed to the help of the state government by dispatching army and IAF personnel in big number to assist the state government and this was perhaps for the first time that joint efforts were made on a massive scale to rescue those trapped and shift injured persons from Bhuj to various parts of the country.

``I think it was a unique example of team work and sincere efforts to save Gujarat and it would go a long way in the history of the state." At the same time, the senior BJP leader was all praise for the excellent work done by the Non-governmental Organisations, including the RSS and the VHP. ``The people of Gujarat and NGOs too have risen to the occasion and exuded the hope that a new and powerful Gujarat would emerge after the rehabilitation of the earthquake affected areas was over within one and half years."

While assuring full assistance from the Centre, Advani said, the NDA government would give maximum financial help for reconstruction of houses in Kutch district. The Centre, he said would after consultation with the experts and officials of the state, would decide on the package which includes, reconstruction of houses and extend help to houses which have been badly damaged in the earthquake.

17 fresh tremors Monday, February 12, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Parts of Gujarat experienced 17 fresh tremors Sunday, but there were no reports of any loss of life or damage to property. The epicentre of the tremors was Bhuj and the maximum and the minimum magnitude ranged between 4.7 and 3.0 on the Richter Scale, official sources said.

The tremor with the maximum magnitude was recorded at 1.01 am, they added. Nine tremors were recorded Saturday, with the maximum magnitude touching 4.1 on the Richter Scale.

Decision on reopening colleges on Monday Monday, February 12, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Reopening of colleges and final decision on postponement of university exams will take place on Monday, the Gujarat University executive council decided here on Saturday.

In a meeting wherein GU Budget 2001-2002, entailing a deficit of 27.28 lakh, was proposed, the council decided not to postpone reopening of colleges any further and resume teaching from Monday. The decision, reportedly a manifestation of excess governmental pressure, has evoked concern about safety of students from the fraternity given the fact that a number of colleges are still to carry out repair in their premises.

Meanwhile, decision on conducting GU exams, normally scheduled in March second week, was postponed till Monday. Sources indicate that the exams are likely to be scheduled somewhere near second week of April now.

Here too, while the council is learnt to have ruled out any possibility of a general option, sources said higher authorities have signalled to go easy on quake-tormented students by setting easy exam papers.

Meanwhile, GU Vice Chancellor Naresh Ved told TOI over phone that devastation of students in Kutch is almost complete. "Their parents have dies, there are no books, no colleges, nothing. There is too much mental trauma, we will have to give special concessions", Ved said, confirming that exams for Kutch students will be conducted separately later on lines of supplementary examinations conducted by the School Board.

Meanwhile, highlights of the proposed budget include allocation of Rs 3 lakhs as special assistance to the quake-affected students in year 2001-2001 and another Rs 2 lakhs in the next year.

While more than Rs 8.7 crores has been allocated for repairing damages sustained by University press, laboratories and other buildings.

Towards further help to the quake-devastated, GU has decided to form a GU Alumni Association to raise funds for quake-relief. GU will also waive any fee towards late filling of examination forms and make special concessions in terms of changing examination centres are concerned. GU has also expressed its readiness to make lodging-boarding facilities for the quake affected during the examinations.

Numerous other important decisions were also taken by the syndicate meet that is to meet once again on Wednesday.

Sonia to visit Kutch, Saurashtra Monday, February 12, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Congress president Sonia Gandhi will begin a three-day tour of quake-hit Kutch and Saurashtra regions of Gujarat from Sunday.

She would extensively tour quake-hit villages and towns in Kutch and Saurashtra and observe relief and rehabilition work being carried out by various organisations, a party release said here.

The Congress president would visit relief camps set up by the party, it said adding she would also impress upon the Congress ruled states to adopt quake-hit villages for reconstruction.

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