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November 7, 2001 - November 7, 2001

Govt declares bonus Wednesday, November 7, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The state government has announced an ad hoc bonus for Class IV employees in and below the salary grade of Rs 2,650-4,000, working in the government, panchayats and organisations sustained on a cent-per cent grant.

The bonus is likely to impose a burden of Rs 25 crore on the state exchequer and will cover one lakh beneficiaries. Those grant-in-aid organisations which get government grants for meeting their establishment costs from will also get bonuses in the above salary grade.

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




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Erratic supply leaves CNG users in lurch Wednesday, November 7, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
Users of compressed natural gas (CNG) in the city are a hassled lot. The fuel might have been touted as environment-friendly and pocket-friendly, but those who have installed the kits in their cars now don't agree.

Availability of the gas has become a major problem for the users with only one petrol pump in the city supplying the fuel. S R Petrol Pump located in Nizampura is the only one supplying the fuel within city limits. The other nearest CNG fuel station is located on the National Highway opposite GSFC.

Obtaining the fuel at the petrol pump on the highway has become a major problem as the pump is presently catering to the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses. DTC buses are being refilled at the place since the last couple of months.

Users say the other petrol pump has limited itself to supplying the gas only twice a day, as it is not capable of handling the rush. Also, both the CNG stations do not have the compression booster required to pump gas at a pressure.

The end result being that the system works on a pressure equilibrium mechanism. If your car has some gas in it and the pressure in the supply cascade is low; one may not be able to refill the vehicle.

Said one CNG user H R Jani: "After refilling four to five cars, the pressure in the cascade becomes low and it takes quite some time to fill gas in the car. The moment the pressure in the tank is equal to that in the cascade, the refilling stops."

Jani and several others like him feel that it is high time that the fuel stations had compressors. "These equipment are available at several fuel stations in south Gujarat, and using CNG is much convenient there. It takes little time to refuel your vehicle and one need not bother if some gas is already there in the tank," another user said.

What has irritated several users is the fact that they are getting a raw deal after spending over Rs 30,000. Many expected that this cost would be recovered by the economy of using CNG. Now, they often have to use petrol, as getting the gas is difficult.

Said another user S S Sonar, "Now we feel that the investment was not worth it. We expected to recover it by the low fuel cost, but this never happened. Today, a lot of cars are equipped for the use of CNG by car manufacturers, but where is the gas."

Sonar added that CNG was available in plenty in Gujarat. "It is supplied by pipelines to other parts of the country. If things are streamlined, several people might start using CNG in the state," she said.

CNG refilling stations blame the Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) for the state of affairs. "It is the responsibility of GAIL to provide us with the necessary equipment and the gas. We only give them the necessary space for the fuel station," said a functionary of one of the CNG refilling stations.

GAIL officials at the other end said that the problem was temporary in nature and would be taken care of once the rush of DTC buses went down. They claimed that the rush was unprecedented and hence led to some problems.

A senior official said the process for obtaining compressors was underway. "Some procedures have to be followed and that is why developments are slow. However, things will be in order soon," the official said.

In the line of fire
District collector, Bhagyesh Jha
"Though there have been some complaints, there is no major hue and cry over the issue. It seems that the supply of CNG itself is sufficient. However, we will look into the difficulties and try to find a solution. The supply of CNG can be covered an essential commodity, but we will have to discuss the matter with concerned officers before taking any steps.

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





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GCCI appreciate ST exemption for Kutch Wednesday, November 7, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: While welcoming the long-awaited declaration of Sales-Tax exemption to the industrial units of Kutch, Kalyan J Shah, president, Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry pointed out that this will give the much-needed boost for the speedy economic development of the region.

Shah also emphasised that the special benefits of Sales-Tax exemption and deferment in case of industrial units that invest Rs 100 crore or more would go a long way in attracting not only major domestic industrial houses but also invite cross-country investments which would positively spur industrial development in Kutch region.

Even the provision made for Sales-Tax incentives for units that are in the pipeline and for whom three conditions have been laid down is indeed a welcome step in the right direction in as much as it would provide encouragement to these units, he said.

The extension of Sales-Tax relief to export units on the basis of prescribed consumption norms as per the exim policy has been made applicable. This will also provide stimulus to exports. Even the norms of those items not included in the exim policy is a welcome gesture in the direction of export promotion from Kutch region.

Besides the decision taken by the state government to extend the benefits of Sales-Tax exemption to those units that are not eligible for central excise relief as per a central notification is also greatly appreciated, Shah said.

GCCI, he said, is confident that the declaration of Sales-Tax exemption will substantially speed up economic activities and help in restoring confidence of the entrepreneurs and expedite the rebuilding process of Kutch region.

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





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CBI yet to arrest IAS officials in IPCL land scam Wednesday, November 7, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is yet to track down three persons including two senior retired officers of the India Administrative Service, in connection with the Indian Petrochemical Corporation Limited land scam, causing financial losses to the tune of Rs 2 crore to the PSU.

The officers include the former chairman and managing director of the PSU, K G Ramanathan, the former director of finance of IPCL N Chander and the former vice-chairman of Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation N M Bijlani.

According to the CBI, Ramanathan in collusion with Bijlani had cheated the IPCL by entering into a land purchase agreement with a private party and acquiring land for the PSU at rates, more than 10 times the market value of the plot. "When the market value of the land was Rs 68,000 per acre, the cost paid by the PSU per acre was Rs 6.2 lakh," said a CBI official.

According to the findings of the case, Bijlani was a former IAS officer of the 1963 batch in the Gujarat cadre and had retired from the services around 1994. Ramanathan (1962 batch IAS), then chairman of IPCL, appointed him as a consultant with the IPCL. Among other duties in his work profile, Bijlani was also to look into the land purchases made by IPCL.

"The very appointment of Bijlani was a doubtful exercise as it violated the required norms including the approval of the IPCL board," a CBI official maintained.

Furthermore, the conspiracy can be well established from the fact that despite being on the pay-rolls of IPCL, Bijlani, the CBI maintained, received a kick-back of Rs 16 lakh from the private broker, Jayesh D Panchal, who arranged for the 35 acres of land which IPCL purchased.

The land was eventually purchased at Vardala village, Bharuch district under Vagra taluka around 1999, for developing a township for the employees. The investigating agency have further alleged that whereas the IPCL, being a PSU, could have approached the state for the purchase of land, Ramanathan avoided the route so as to facilitate the conspiracy whereby the IPCL was subsequently cheated of a whopping amount.

Also there were irregularities while opening the tender floated for the purpose and Panchal was given undue weightage and other bidders were not even called for negotiations.

The conspiracy came to light when following tip-offs, the CBI approached the committee of the revenue department which decides on the market rates prevailing in a particular plot. The officials confirmed the actual rate of the plot at the relevant period of time of the purchase, which affirmed that the deal was actually struck at a exorbitant rate. The sanction for the deal and order for release of payment towards the deal was done by Chander, the fourth accused in the case.

Though the investigations have been on since April this year, the first arrest was affected only on October 29, when Panchal, the broker of the deal, was arrested and was remanded in CBI custody for interrogation till November 6.

While the CBI maintained that the three IPCL officials would be arrested appropriately "when the time is ripe", it opposed the bail application sought by Panchal, on the grounds that investigation was still on crucial stage.

Special judge B N Jani, however, observing the gravity of the case and the fact that the release of the accused, an influential person, would hamper investigation, turned down the bail plea. The CBI told the court it would take a month more to conclude with detailed investigations.

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


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Govt to check Mumbai gangsters entering Surat Wednesday, November 7, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
Gujarat Home Department has initiated a series of measures to check the increasing rate of crimes committed by gangs, some of which operate from the Mumbai underworld.

Following a representation made by captains of industries about some serious incidents including an attack by an armed gang on a diamond merchant, Minister of State for Home Gordhanbhai Zadaphia visited Surat and reviewed the law and order situation at a joint meeting of senior police officials and representatives of trade and commerce.

Talking to TNN on his return from Surat, Zaadaphia said the government was committed to eliminating gangsters sneaking into the city from Mumbai. The government will execute a fresh plan under which additional police forces will be deployed at vulnerable places, mainly industrial areas including GIDC estates, banks and financial institutions in Surat.

Surat police commissioner VK Gupta has been directed to take stern measures to curb the entry of criminals from Mumbai underworld who were at times using Surat as a safe hideout or conniving with local gangs to extort money from builders and diamond merchants.

A special cell in the commissionerate will keep a close watch on the movements of gangsters and selected police officials have been vested with additional powers to deal against such elements, he said. The minister, however, did not elaborate on the additional powers.

In view of the coming Diwali festival, police have taken extra pre-cautionary measures to prevent recurrence of armed robberies in industrial and business centres and textile markets now doing brisk business, he said.

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


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