Gandhi's alma mater in dilapidated state Wednesday, February 7, 2001
RAJKOT: Mohandas Gandhi Vidyalaya (formerly Alfred High School), the alma mater of Mahatma Gandhi in Rajkot, is in a dilapidated condition.
Though a part of the building is on the verge of collapsing, the executive engineer of the road and building department has given it the green signal to start functioning. This has resulted in tempers running high amongst the parents and even at the district education office here.
A look at the 105-year-old school building, located at Jawahar Road, reveals that the walls have developed severe cracks due to the tremors while the pillars on the top floor are in a bad shape. At some places, the damaged portions are hanging dangerously and could collapse on someone even with a minor jolt.
To prevent the students from going near the walls, the authorities have tied long ropes all around as a precaution. Even the staircase is like a "hanging bridge".
The school authorities are themselves perplexed as to how did the executive engineer gave the clearance to start classes on the ground floor when the ground floor would be the first one to be affected in a building-collapse.
The administrative staff have been shifted to the NCC office located on the school ground itself.
District education officer C T Earvadiya has asked the school authorities to hire a building and shift the entire school till repairs are carried out.
Interestingly, even chief minister Keshubhai Patel was a student of this school.
Meanwhile, eight government offices in the city have been shifted to other places. According to sources, the total loss to government properties in the city is estimated to be around Rs 7.5 crore. As many as 1,889 government buildings have been damaged of which 65 have been completely damaged. Some of the government schools and colleges have also been damaged but no decision has been taken on shifting them to other buildings.
The sources pointed out that the city mamlatdar office, taluka mamlatdar office, the office of the sub registrar, the house of the district judge, the district jail and the regional information office were amongst the quake affected premises.
Quake-stricken people 'gheraoe' Bhuj collector Wednesday, February 7, 2001
BHUJ: Angry quake-stricken people, resenting tardy and inadeqaute relief distribution, today gheraoed Bhuj district collector even as Gujarat government announced the setting up of a management authority for taking up reconstruction and rehabilitation along with introduction of "relief card" system from tomorrow.
The slogan-shouting protesters, mostly villagers, gathered in front of the collectorate to express their anger and eyewitnesses said district collector Anil Mukhim, who took over from Kamal Dayani following his transfer amidst complaints of poor handling of relief operation, was gheraoed. Mukhim, however, denied he was gheraoed.
Mukhim had a tough time in explaining the tardy pace of relief distribution despite availability of relief materials in plenty.
Seeking to respond to a barrage of questions from newsmen, all that he could say was that the administration was coming to grips with the situation and streamlining distribution.
Mukhim admitted he was witnessing angry protests on a daily basis. "Here it is national calamity and people are bound to give vent to their agitation. They come in a hot mood and we as administration maintain our cool to pacify them."
Faced with strident criticism, the state cabinet decided to set up an earthquake management authority, headed by the chief minister, to monitor relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes in quake-ravaged areas.
The government also announced it would also launch a new, relief card scheme, from tomorrow to supply rations, clothing and cash relief to quake-ravaged areas.
Centre to provide pre-fabricated structures in Kutch Wednesday, February 7, 2001
AHMEDABAD: The Centre is comtemplating of providing temporary pre-fabricated structures to thousands of those rendered homeless in Gujarat's quake-hit district of Kutch.
"Before arriving at any decision we have to take into account whether these structures will be able to stand the wind-velocity which is quite high in the region", an official who accompanied union urban development minister, Jagmohan to the affected areas of Kutch said here on Tuesday.
He said Jagmohan visited the ravaged areas of Bhuj, Anjar and Bhachau to have the first hand assessment of the devastation caused and to take steps to provide immediate temporary shelters to those whose houses have been destroyed.
Jagmohan was accompanied by a five member team of experts including siesmologist and structural engineer Dr AS Arya, HUDCO chairman V Suresh among others, the official said.
Bangaru Lakshman noncommittal on death toll Wednesday, February 7, 2001
RAJKOT: Bharatiya Janata Party president, Bangaru Lakshman said on Tuesday that he would neither deny nor accept the death toll given by defence minister George Fernandes.
Talking to reporters here, the BJP president choose to evade clear-cut replies to crucial questions on the lack of co-ordination in relief work in Kutch, change of leadership and role of Narendra Modi in the present context.
When asked whether he saw any lack of co-ordination in relief work throughout Kutch, Lakshman replied in the negative. When his attention was drawn to the fact that the media round the world had exposed the lack of co-ordination between various government agencies engaged in relief work, the BJP president said that "looking to the large-scale death and destruction, there were chances that there may be some initial problem". He in turn chose to blame the media for negative reporting and said, "It is unfortunate that some section of the media was insensitive to the need of the hour. The negative tone in the reporting had a demoralising effect on the personnel who were working under difficult circumstances. Instead of pointing out the shortcomings, if any, in the operations, they (the media) chose to disproportionately highlight them."
In reply to a question on his interview to a TV channel and hints of change of leadership in Gujarat, the BJP president said, "I had never said there would be any change of leadership. I do not have control over the commentator". He termed the issue as imagination of the media.
When asked to clarify on the telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and General Musharraf, Lakshman said there was no doubt that it was the Pakistani general who rang up the PM. In reply to another question as to why did India choose to accept the relief material from Pakistan when on the one hand it had decided not to send its team to Sharjah to play with Pakistan for collecting money for quake relief, the BJP president said, "It was done as a humanitarian gesture".
Lakshman was, however, critical of the central government decision to extend the cease-fire in Jammu and Kashmir. He said, "The central government should rethink the cease-fire issue if it is possible. The unilateral stand taken by Vajpayee government should not be taken as our weakness".
On the issue of sending Narendra Modi to Gujarat, he said, "Modi was sent with a view to guide and assist the state government in the rescue, relief and rehabilitation process". When further pressed as to why did Gujarat need Narendra Modi and none else to help the party, the BJP president chose to evade answering the question.
He called for setting up a disaster management body to tackle the frequent natural calamities. The also called upon all the political parties to give up mutual acrimony and work towards rehabilitating the people of Kutch and Gujarat.
Chaos in Rajkot over reopening of schools Wednesday, February 7, 2001
RAJKOT: Chaos prevailed in the entire city on Monday morning on the issue of reopening of schools.
While some schools opened but had poor attendance, many schools decided to extend the vacation till next Monday.
District education officer CT Aervadia had issued a statement saying schools which had not suffered any damage would open on Monday. Those with damage but having got it repaired could also start from Monday provided they had a certificate from a structural engineer, the statement had said. The schools which had suffered extensive damage were asked to remain closed till further orders.
The difference of opinion between the school managements and the district education officer led to chaos in the city.
Parents frantically tried to contact the schools which had maintained a stoic silence on the issue. Most of the them were unable to get through to the schools on phone as either it was engaged or put off the hook. This led to parents going to the schools only to be told that the vacation had been extended while some of the parents left their children at schools as they functioned normally.
Sources said that while schools like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Saint Tulsi and Merambika functioned normally, other schools like St Mary's and Nirmala convent decided to remain closed till February 11.
A statement issue by district primary education officer N J Makwana said the teachers had been asked to report for duty and help in relief operations.
Schools in Maliya, Wankaner and Morbi have been ordered to remain closed till February 11.The Saurashtra University has extended the vacation till Wednesday.