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January 15, 2001 - January 18, 2001

Recession hits Surendranagar-Wadhwan industrial belt Thursday, January 18, 2001

RAJKOT: A severe recession has hit the Surendranagar-Wadhwan industrial belt. As a result, most of the units are facing closure. Around 65,000 workers have already lost their jobs.

An eerie silence prevails at the GIDC estates in Surendranagar and Wadhwan. Barring some pharmaceutical units, the others are in poor financial condition.

Sources told The Times of India that inventories had begun piling up at the units as there was no demand. The invasion of foreign goods, which were being sold at a cheaper rate than the local products, had also hit the units.

Most of the units are either working strictly according to the orders received by them or have been given on contract to others to manage the affairs.

The units have demanded incentives from the government to tide over the present situation.

Ramjibhai Patel, owner of one of the units, said that the factory owners were being harassed by way of unnecessary inspections.

The Surendranagar-Wadhwan industrial belt has almost 1,000 units which mostly comprise of pharmaceutical, bearings, plastic, textile and lathe machine units. Almost 1.25 lakh workers are employed in these units.

Of these, almost 65 per cent are on the verge of closure and more than 75,000 workers would be rendered jobless in the near future. The workers of a spinning mill in Limbdi are already on the warpath and had resorted to rasta roko agitation recently, to catch the attention of the authorities.

The industrialists are pinning their hopes on the forthcoming state and Union budgets which could carry some incentives for them.

Five held for opening fire on motorcyclists Thursday, January 18, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The Sardarnagar police arrested five persons for allegedly opening fire on two motorcyclists near Sindhi dharamshala in Kubernagar late on Monday. Business rivalry is believed to have provoked this encounter, the police said on Tuesday.

According to the police, Nandlal Uttamchand Ramchandani and his brother Dinesh were riding a motorbike when five persons, most of whom belonged to the same family, came on a scooter and hit their vehicle.

One of the accused, Hundaldas Asandas Tulsiyani, screamed "let us finish them" and gave a cue to his son, Raju, who opened fire. The bullet caught Nandlal in the stomach.

Another accused, Dilip Hundaldas Tulsiyani, then slashed Dinesh's face and took away the account books and Rs 50,000 from the bike.

The Ramchandanis and the Tulsiyanis are confectionery traders and have their shops outside Sardarnagar railway station.

Attempt to murder over kite: A case of attempt to murder was registered against Mamruddin, Lala alias Lalva and Faroukh, all of whom stay in Ahmedkhan-ni-chaali near Kalupur bridge, for trying to kill Kausharali Talibali Shaikh and his friend Amjadali over a minor dispute relating to kite.

The three accused allegedly swung an axe into Kausharali's right hand and also injured his friend with a sword and an axe. The complaint was lodged by Kausharali, who is now undergoing treatment at VS Hospital.

Interestingly, though the incident took place on Sunday afternoon, the complaint was lodged only on Monday.

Water crisis deepens as Nyari-2 dam goes dry Thursday, January 18, 2001

RAJKOT: As if to rub salt on the wounds of the people of Rajkot, the Nyari-2 dam also went completely dry on Wednesday.

As a result, there would be an additional shortfall of nearly 10 to 12 lakh gallons of water per day. With no alternative source of water available, the water supply situation would worsen.

Earlier, other sources of water including Bhadar, Aji-1 and Nyari-1 dams and Randerda lake had dried up.

Rajkot is now totally dependent on the Wankaner bore project and the Aji-3 water supply scheme.

At present, Rajkot is being supplied 120 million gallons of water every third day. But, by the middle of the next month, the demand would increase and in the peak of summer it would be around 150 million gallons per day.

The city has been divided into four zones, with each further sub-divided into two zones, for the water distribution purpose. The Jubilee zone gets 17 and 13 lakh gallons of water for the two zones, Gurukul zone gets 32 and 18 lakh gallons, Aji zone gets 42 and 58 lakh gallons and Nyari zone gets 55 lakh gallons of water for each zone.

Meanwhile, the municipal corporation is getting negligible revenue as far as water tax is concerned. During the current year, the civic body has spent almost Rs 36 crore towards water supply alone while the revenue earned is just Rs two crore. Of the total expenses, the electricity bills paid to the Gujarat Electricity Board amount to Rs 12.86 crore and the figure may go upto Rs 17 crore.

Giving details of the continuous decrease in water supply to the people of Rajkot, the sources said that 15 years ago, the city was provided water for 30 minutes twice a day while now the situation was such that water was being provided for just 60 minutes in a week.

With dry barren landscape in Saurashtra, animals have no shade to seek respite from the sun.

Recession in diamond industry hits workers Monday, January 15, 2001

BHAVNAGAR: Farmers and low income group labourers, who have already been hit by two consecutive droughts in Saurashtra and Kutch, now face the additional agony caused by recession in the diamond industry.

According to an estimate, over three lakh diamond workers employed in about 10,000 polishing units in Bhavnagar, Botad, Gariadhar, Mahuva, Palitana and other talukas, are facing a crisis following closure of over one-fourth of the units.

Elaborating on the major factors causing the recession, Dulabhai Italiya who has been running a diamond polishing unit since 1975, told TOINS that demand for diamond jewellery from European and American countries have decreased significantly in recent years.

As a result, there are no buyers for finished diamonds in foreign countries. On the other hand, the London-based diamond trading company has reduced the supply of the diamond roughs to the tune of 50 per cent in order to strike a balance between demand and supply.

Because of such an unfavourable situation at international level, the importers get limited amount of diamond roughs and as a consequence, small dealers hardly get enough quantity to run the polishing units full time.

Khodabhai Chauhan, running a polishing unit in Nirmalnagar area says until a few years back they used to get the roughs on credit and the polished diamonds were purchased in cash by the same firm at Surat or Mumbai.

"We did not have to invest any amount for purchasing the roughs. Now the situation is totally different. We have to purchase the roughs by paying cash and when we go to dealers with polished diamonds, the price they pay is quite low. At times, the sum paid is so low that there is not enough to even pay the wages of the workers. How long can a small trader suffer such a great loss, he asks.

The final sufferers, therefore, are the three lakh diamond workers in the district. Says Ashoksinh Rao, who commutes everyday from Chinala village, "the workers who used to earn between Rs 10,000 and Rs 12,000 in the past now hardly earn Rs 4,000 per month. The other categories of the polishing works get Rs 2,500.

The units observe more holidays due to unavailability of roughs. "We are facing a very difficult time, says Ashok. According to Jerambhai Dhameliya, a middle-level trader, the risk of running unrecorded business worth millions of rupees often creates a shocking situation.

For instance, sometimes the middle-level traders and the polishing unit owners do not get a single paise against the outstanding due of lakhs of rupees from top -level businessmen going bankrupt. It is high time for the top brass of the industry and the government to review the critical situation and streamline the industry.

Govt invites business leaders to discuss power tariff issue Monday, January 15, 2001

VADODARA: The government has invited trade and business leaders to discuss issues related to hike in power tariff. Giving this information to TOINS, Amit Goradia said the meeting between the representatives of the government and the action committee formed by the forum and GCCI would be held in Gandhinagar on Monday.

The government will be represented by finance minister Vajubhai Vala, industries minister Suresh Mehta, energy minister Kaushik Patel and three top bureaucrats while the action committee will be represented by Goradia, Ratan Prakash Gupta and four other representatives.

In order to fight the government over the steep hike in power tariff, two state-level bodies namely the Forum of Federations, Chambers and Industries Associations of Gujarat and Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industries have been formed.

Their demands include rollback in power tariff hike, removal and scrapping of electricity duty and sales tax on electricity.

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