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December 29, 2000 - December 29, 2000

Govt claims full preparedness in tackling drought Friday, December 29, 2000

RAJKOT: The state government has taken all necessary measures to tackle the second consecutive drought. The measures include starting relief works, providing drinking water to needy people and cattle and giving cash doles to old persons and pregnant women.

Stating this to reporters here on Thursday, Sankalp Implementation Committee chairman Vijay Rupani, who has been entrusted the task of looking after 8 out of the 16 districts in the state which have been declared as drought affected, said that the government was determined to see that no citizen and cattle was deprived of drinking water. For that the government had decided to spend Rs 1,189 crore for the year 2000-01, he said.

The government had declared 16 districts as drought affected while the remaining six were declared as semi-drought affected districts.

The responsibility of looking after the remaining eight drought-affected districts has been given to former health minister Ashok Bhatt.

Giving details about some of the important decisions taken by the government for tackling drought, Rupani said that for the first time the government had decided to extend the benefits of subsidy provided for grass for cattle in Panjrapoles in urban areas. Accordingly, a subsidy of Rs 10 would be given with effect from December 1 this year.

He said that the government had also decided to form a relief committee at district and taluka levels to review the functioning of the relief works and to take decisions on relief measures.

The government has empowered the district authorities to fix the daily timings of relief works. The district collectors have already prepared master plans for providing jobs to the needy under the budgeted works, employment assurance scheme and watershed works, Rupani maintained.

He said that the government had decided to give cash doles of Rs 10 per day to old and disabled persons, who are unable to go to relief work site, Rs 20 to pregnant women and Rs 5 to minor children.

Rupani, who had a meeting with the collector and other officials of Rajkot district here on Wednesday, said that about 160 out of 855 villages of the district were being provided drinking water through tankers and arrangement were also being made to provide water to Jetpur and Dhoraji towns from bores, to be drilled in Jetalsar village and at Chhparwadi dam, through pipelines on temporary basis till they got Narmada water from Mahi-Pariyaj pipeline scheme by March 31.

Referring to the water problem of Rajkot city, he said that the government was bound to supply 155 million gallons water per day through various schemes including Aji-3, Demi-1 and Wankaner bore-well project. Water from Bhadar dam would also be supplied by filling the dam with water from Mahi-Pariyaj pipeline scheme, he said.

Rupani said as many as 10,000 out of 11,976 check-dams had been completed at a cost of Rs 303 crore. Most of them were in Saurashtra-Kutch region, he added.

Security tightened at Jamnagar airforce base, Dwarka Friday, December 29, 2000

RAJKOT: Security has been further tightened at the airforce station in Jamnagar, Jagat Mandir at Dwarka and at pilgrim centres in Bet Dwarka in Jamnagar district, following the recent terrorists' attack at Red Fort in New Delhi and continuance of proxy war on the Jammu and Kashmir border.

The local authorities have sounded a red alert, following possibility of similar attacks on these places, according to reliable sources. The joint patrolling by the police, navy and customs has been intensified in coastal areas and in the sea, near the district. Security jawans have started checking pilgrims at Dwarka and other places. They are also intercepting and checking vehicles whose movements are found suspicious.

Meanwhile, the local authorities are keeping a close watch on the movement of foreigners residing in the district, including those in Jamnagar city, the sources said.

Govt determined to develop Saurashtra-Kutch region: CM Friday, December 29, 2000

RAJKOT: Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel on Thursday said that the state government was determined to take all necessary steps to ensure all-round development of drought-prone Saurashtra-Kutch region.

Inaugurating the second phase of the Sardar Patel Jalsanchay Sahbhagi Yojna for constructing check-dams, the chief minister said the government was planning another scheme worth Rs 1,600 crore for providing drinking water to Kutch, Surendranagar, Jamnagar and remaining parts of Rajkot district from the Mahi canal, through a pipeline.

He said under the first phase of this project, drinking water would be provided to 1,600 villages and a few towns in Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Amreli, Ahmedabad and Jasadan taluka of Rajkot district from Sardar Sarovar through Narmada canal by pouring water into Mahi canal from Pariyaj lake through a pipeline. This will be completed by January, he said.

Consequently, the problem of providing water exclusively for irrigation from the existing dams in the region will be solved. This will help farmers increase their production and improve financial condition, he said.

Referring to the government decision to hand over the management of seven non-functioning dairies to the National Dairy Development Board, he said the move will help survive about 1,200 milk co-operatives in the region.

The CM, however, said the government would take steps for the development of animal husbandry. He appealed to the maldharis in the region not to abandon their cattle due to prevailing drought conditions.

He appealed to people to extend their co-operation in cash and kind for the construction of check-dams. He asked the NRIs, belonging to the region to contribute for this social cause and thus help the villagers.

The government would consider to construct more check-dams in addition to the target of building 10,000 check-dams during the year 2001, he said.

Referring to power shortage, high cost of power generation and heavy loss incurred by the Gujarat Electricity Board, he said the problem would be solved as the central government had agreed to give 2.50 million cubic metres of gas, of which five lakh cubic metres had already been supplied.

In addition to this, liquid gas from gulf countries would be imported for using it for power generation. Two gas terminals had already been set up at ports in the state for this purpose.

Earlier, presiding over the function, state finance minister Vajubhai Vala assured that his department would provide all the required funds for building check-dams.

Giving details about the scheme, the state minister for small and medium irrigation Nitin Patel said that 10,000 check-dams would be constructed in Saurashtra region. Of these, 3,000 dams would be constructed by March next year, while the rest would be constructed from April to August, he added.

He claimed that about 12,000 check-dams were constructed last year in a record time of 60 days, which could not be done in the last 45 years.

Under the scheme, the government bears 60 per cent of the cost of constructing a check-dam, while the rest 40 per cent is raised through contributions.

GSRTC fares up by 8.5% Friday, December 29, 2000

AHMEDABAD: Travelling by Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) buses has become dearer. A decision to hike GSRTC bus fares was taken the state government late on Wednesday. The revised rates have been made effective from Thursday.

In view of hike in diesel prices, the GSRTC had sent a proposal to the government for revision of bus fares. The decision effects an average hike of 8.5 per cent on tickets.

The move, said GSRTC managing director cum vice-chairman Varesh Sinha, is expected to rake in Rs 85 crore in revenue. "The hike is meant to off-set extra expenditure the corporation has incurred on account of the recent diesel price hike," he explained.

With GSRTC's losses now touching Rs 300 crore, the hike is designed to prevent losses from shooting any further.

However, not everybody is convinced. Senior officials of the GSRTC expressed fears that the hike could be inversely proportional to the load factor of buses. "GSRTC has only 63 per cent occupancy on different routes. Taking this ticket rate revision into consideration, the occupancy on our buses should at least touch 70 per cent for us to break even," said an official.

City police hurt as reshuffle fails to fill vacant DCP's post Friday, December 29, 2000

VADODARA: The latest round of transfers and postings in the state police has left some happy while some unhappy. But, it's the Vadodara city police that's been left shocked and is still rubbing its eyes in disbelief. The state home department has completely forgotten to fill the post of deputy commissioner of police (south) lying vacant since the last two months.

"We have been given a step-motherly treatment. The DCP (south) is an important post that controls a large number of police stations in the city, including some sensitive ones. We were expecting that this post would be filled up during the present reshuffle," a senior police official told 'The Times of India'.

The post is vacant for the last two months after former DCP (south) Mohan Jha was transferred as district superintendent of police, Dahod. Since then, the DCP (north) VJ Gautam has been holding dual charge. There is an additional commissioner of police and three DCPs - north, south and administration -- under the city police commissioner.

Rumours are rife about the possible posting of present Rajkot (rural) superintendent of police Ajay Tomar as DCP (south). Sources say while Tomar will fill Mohan Jha's post, his wife Junagadh collector Sunayana Tomar will take over as Vadodara collector as district collector Anil Mukim is awaiting transfer next month.

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