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January 18, 2001 - January 19, 2001

Number of road mishaps up in Rajkot Friday, January 19, 2001

RAJKOT: There is a marked increase in the number of accidents in Rajkot city. Traffic inspector J J Jadeja told TOINS on Thursday that 80 persons had lost their lives in 74 fatal accidents during last year. According to a survey conducted by the traffic branch, accidents on Jamnagar Road had jumped from two cases in 1999 to 10 cases in 2000.

Nineteen fatal accidents were reported from Ahmedabad highway, Kuvadva Road and Marketing Yard Road in 2000. Five cases were reported from Bhavnagar Road while 12 cases were reported from Gondal Road.

However, ban on movement of heavy vehicles in the city partially helped lower deaths. Fatal accidents mostly involve buses, water and petrol tankers and mini buses. Despite repeated plea and efforts to stop these private luxury buses and mini buses from plying within the city, the powerful travel agency lobby has managed to ensure that the ban on their movement on city roads is not imposed, sources said.

Rajkot residents had paid Rs 42,18,365 as fine for breaking traffic rules besides 7.5 lakh was paid to RTO for various offences. Of this Rs 3 lakh was collected as fine towards environment degradation. The traffic police collects Rs 400 on the spot from any vehicle polluting the city atmosphere.

Twenty-one pedestrians were knocked down by speeding vehicles.

Complaint filed against inebriated deputy collector Friday, January 19, 2001

RAJKOT: Jaffrabad police station late on Wednesday registered a complaint against Amreli deputy collector M M Mackwan for an alleged drunken brawl during his visit to Pipalva village in Khambha taluka of Amreli district recently.

Even the people of the village observed a total bandh on Thursday in protest against Mackwan's behaviour.

In their complaint, the residents told the police that the deputy collector had hurled abuses at them.

Mackwan was in the village to inspect water tankers in the area.

The complainants said he had misbehaved with the village's women, this had got them enraged. After Mackwan left the place, he visited Jaffrabad, where he meet police sub-inspector G H Gohil, who registered a complaint under the Prohibition Act. He was subsequently arrested and released on bail at night.

Recalling the incident, residents said that when water was being distributed at Ambika chowk in the village, Machwan arrived in his jeep (GJ-14-E/11) and started abusing the people. Even the tanker driver was not spared. At this stage, Khambha Taluka Kisan Sangh president Govindbhai Paneliya tried to intervene. He, too, was brushed aside. Machwan, then, walked up to the queue where women were filling water and misbehaved with them.

The issue was taken to Pipalva vice-president Ranigbhai. Ranigbhai, along with around 400 people, went to the mamlatdar's office to register their protest.

Tension grips Panigate as groups clash over love affair Friday, January 19, 2001

VADODARA: The Panigate police have arrested five people in connection with the stone-pelting incident that rocked Raja Rani Lake area in east city late on Monday.

The police have registered cross complaints against 20 people from two different communities. Those arrested are Illumuddin Makrani, Sakir Makrani, Ratilal Vasava and two more persons.

Deputy commissioner of police V J Gautam said the stone-pelting incident was outcome of a love affair between a boy and girl from different communities.

Earlier on Monday, tension mounted in Rajarani lake area as two groups from different communities pelted stones on each other localities. Police said that tension had built up following beating up of one Rakesh Kahar who was allegedly harassing a girl from minority community.

"This boy was after Illumuddin's daughter. Illumuddin, however, had fixed his daughter's marriage from a person of his own community. This was known to all but somehow Rakesh did not give up chasing the girl and was ultimately beaten up on Monday", a police source said. He said that following this incident Rakesh called up people from his community and tried to cash on their communal sentiments.

"This led to a group clash. Many people from both the communities came out on streets and started hurling stones. There was no major injury or any casualty but the entire area was gripped in tension", the police source said. Incidentally, during the peak of communal riots in 80's Panigate was one of the most sensitive areas in city.

"The police reached on time and prevented a flare up. An FIR was registered, complaints from both the groups were taken and subsequent arrests were made", Gautam said. He added that an extra police posse is deputed at Rajarani lake area and Gautam society in Panigate.

Confusion persists at AMC meeting Thursday, January 18, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Confusion prevailed at the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation on the sixth consecutive day as the BJP staged a walk-out of the standing committee meeting on Tuesday.

The leader of the Opposition at the corporation, Dharmendra Shah, has demanded that meetings of all municipal committees of AMC be suspended with immediate effect "until discipline and order is reinstated at the corporation."

Referring to the violence at municipal school committee's elections held on January 11, Shah blamed the mayor for the incident. He accused the Congress of terrorising the Opposition and other officials to impose its will on AMC activities.

Mayor Himmatsinh Patel, on the other hand, indulged in Opposition-bashing. "The BJP is left with no issue to harp on and is finding it difficult to fulfil the Opposition's role. The party is resorting to cheap tactics to politicise even routine activities and stall work at the corporation," retaliated Patel.

Pro-people budget heavily weighs against AMTS Thursday, January 18, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service's (AMTS) "pro-people" budget, which promises all of the above and more, was passed on Tuesday by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation's transport committee.

With the budget outlay being hiked from Rs 119.79 crore to Rs 125.41 crore, stress is on investing more in passenger services, while looking to cut costs and boost income. The latter part is, however, behindhand when compared to investments made.

However, city commuters will have a better time on AMTS buses. From April onwards the city will have its first vestibule buses worth Rs 40 lakh as part of its single-deck articulated passenger bus service. Mumbai and Chennai are using such buses with a fair amount of success.

"The buses with three entries have a seating capacity of 150 passengers. Two popular routes have been chosen for the two vestibular buses to be procured from Ashok Leyland. One will ply on the Vasna-Sabarmati-Chandkheda route while the other will be pressed into service on the 132-foot road. We expect a high rate of occupancy as these buses will provide a very attractive and viable alternative to autorickshaws and the other diesel three-wheeler (tempo) that ply on these routes," said Surendra Baxi, chairman of transport committee of AMC.

This apart, 50 new (regular) buses will join the existing 886 AMTS buses that ply on 134 routes. These buses will be procured by the transport committee through lease or financing by banks or financial institutions. Adhering to the Euro norms specified by the Central government, the AMTS has set aside Rs 1 crore to procure 50 Euro engines for city buses.

The other highlight of the AMTS budget is the decision to extend students' concession (68 per cent) to those undergoing courses for postgraduate degree or diploma. Outstation students will also benefit from the concessional rates. Fifty per cent concession has also been extended to senior citizens. AMTS will soon issue identity cards for the purpose.

Lifetime passes will be issued to the visually impaired. Passes for the general public is also on AMTS' agenda. Monthly and tri-monthly passes will be made available to commuters. "This would entail less trouble for passengers and give us large percentage of fixed clientele."

Looking to increasing its income, the AMTS will introduce passenger-controlling squads to cut down on ticketless travel on city buses. Other than this, the AMC's transport committee is also going to ask the state government to pay up Rs 2 crore in lieu of 'free police travel' on AMTS buses.

"At least 2.97 per cent of our total income is lost in giving free rides to policemen. It is high time the state government paid this amount to us and also gave us financial aid to meet our Rs 187 crore worth of debts. This is a service-oriented organisation and state government should help it provide better facilities to passengers," said Baxi.

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