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December 12, 2000 - December 14, 2000

Complaint against Azhar-Jadeja in Rajkot Thursday, December 14, 2000

AHMEDABAD: Four youths have registered a complaint in Pradyumannagar police station in Rajkot against Mohammad Azaruddin, Ajay Jadeja and the bookies for cheating them by conspiring and fixing a Titan Cup cricket match between India and South Africa in Rajkot in 1996.

For those who thought that the match fixers got away lightly and that the CBI found itself not authorised to take action against cricketers because they were not central government employees, there is now hope for redressal after Sanjay Vyas and his friends approached the police to take care of action against the tainted players.

Speaking to The Times of India , Rajkot police commissioner Sudhir Sinha said that the Praduymannagar police station has registered a case under section 420 for cheating and 120 B for criminal conspiracy against the duo and a clutch of bookies who were named by the Central Bureau of Investigations.

However, he ruled out immediate arrests. He said the CBI had probed the case and the BCCI had given its verdict based on the bearing that match fixing had on the Board and the government and its financial implications.

He said neither had lost any money and the players were booked for misconduct and unfair play. However he said they have registered a case from the point of view of spectators.

He said they will approach the board and the CBI for evidence against the players and then investigate on their own and after that they will decide on arresting the players for further interrogations.

Sinha added that a team of Rajkot police led by investigating officer, PSI S J Jadeja will leave for Delhi after the Thursday's cricket match between India and Zimbabwe.

Collectorate staff to be reshuffled Thursday, December 14, 2000

VADODARA: A major reshuffle of staff in the collectorate office here would soon be effective to overcome the disparity in workload amongst employees. The move is a result of special study on workload of each staff member.

The Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) has for the first time in the state conducted a scientific study on workload of each of the 137 collectorate staff here. The study revealed that almost 70 per cent of the staff was working below their capacity, while a little over 30 per cent was over-worked.

The perception of the workload too was unrealistic. In some cases perception of workload was high, however, the actual work accomplished by each employee was very low.

"We have already implemented the reshuffle partly, however, based on the study report, a special recommendation too would be sent to Gandhinagar to change the staff allotment in different departments," said district collector Anil Mukim. The report forms the basis of this massive re-organisation drive being undertaken by Mukim.

The changes that have already been implemented also involve changing the work patterns. The complicated government procedures too would be simplified so that application files can move faster from one department to the other, said Mukim.

"The process of completing work has also been simplified," says resident district collector C R Kharsan. "I am now able to distribute work between the employees more efficiently as I have the study report that enlists each person's workload. Unnecessary file transfers, fieldwork too are kept to a minimum," he says.

The accent is now on manpower rather than on man-hours. At present, some departments like the collector office was over-staffed. It also had the cream of the staff, while subordinate offices of the mamlatdar, which have a higher workload due to the larger number of field visits, suffered as the staff strength was lower," said Mukim.

He said that such an in-depth study to monitor the work hours put in by each of the 134 employees of the three departments of the district collectorate, has been conducted for the first time in the state. It has revealed that the three main wings of the administration, the collector office, the SDM office and the mamlatdar office have an unequal distribution of workload and staff.

"One of the important goals of the model district project is to increase efficiency of the staff. However, the staff believed that their strength was low, and the workload was higher in their department. The trainers at IRMA therefore chalked out a special system to assess the actual work load in the departments and the way these have to be handled," says Mukim.

"The perception of work put in by the employees was unrealistic. The main collectorate office has some of the best staff while other offices like the city mamlatdar office were understaffed and received less staff. Also recruitment and transfer of staff were not done on the basis of aptitude of the employee. There were some departments like the land records department, which was over staffed, as it was believed that this was an important department. The quantum of work was not taken into consideration.

According to Mukim, the general perception of government officials was that they were understaffed and the only way to increase efficiency was to increase the staff. However, we have now realised that restructuring of staff would increase efficiency.

Ogre of violence rears head once again Tuesday, December 12, 2000

AHMEDABAD: Police fired nine rounds and lobbed 160 tear-gas shells as tension mounted in the Shahpur area of the city on Sunday evening following violent clashes between two groups at Nagoriwad. Three kuchcha houses, a Maruti van and a scooter were torched during the rioting that followed stone-throwing. Two policemen were injured in the violence.

The SRP has been stationed at Nagoriwad and more deployment is expected.

The problems began around 10.30 pm on Saturday when a youth was out answering nature's call at Jagdish Colony. Some people took objection to this.

The heated exchanges that followed drew a crowd that began pelting stones. This brought the police to the scene and they lobbed 52 tear-gas shells and opened two rounds of fire. A case of rioting was made out against accused from both groups. Two SRP jawans were injured in the violence that lasted late into the night.

According to reports, on Sunday afternoon it was a procession that passed through the same area during prayers that sparked off fresh trouble. "This being the wedding season, there were 51 marriages scheduled, headed by a procession accompanying the goddess, and this sparked off trouble around 5 pm," a police official said.

"Someone pelted a stone and that is how the trouble began," he went on to explain. "Six rounds were fired from a revolver while three were from rifles."

The fire brigade was summoned to douse fires set off by the mob. Senior police officials, including additional commissioner of police (sector-I) Shivanand Jha, rushed to the spot to take control of the situation.

A case of rioting was lodged at the Shahpur police station but no arrests had been effected till late in the night.

Gujarat forest dept prefers gizmos to trees! Tuesday, December 12, 2000

AHMEDABAD: In spite of a depleting forest cover and challanges to wildlife in the state, the Gujarat Forest Department chose to divert nearly Rs 6 crore, earmarked for tree plantation, to the purchase of expensive Geographic Information Systems (GIS), already available in other departments.

Prior to the purchase, the forest department had been using GIS available at the state government's own Remote Sensing and Communications Centre (RESECO) at Gandhinagar.

The expenditure of Rs 5.5 crore incurred so far on GIS purchase was sourced from the loans granted by Japan's Overseas Economic Co-operation Fund under the Integrated Forestry Development Project (IFDP) that took off in 1995.

The funds were diverted in January 1999 on the plea that owing to a delay in obtaining the state government's permission, there wasn't enough time to carry out over 70 per cent of the plantation work as per schedule. The forest department had also argued that under the prevailing circumstances, it was not possible to maintain the quality and height of the plants in the nurseries.

If funds diversion wasn't bad enough, the GIS purchases were made through the conservator of forests (IFDP branch) and not the office of the Research and Working Plan Circle (Vadodara), that usually co-ordinates such purchases.

The proposal to purchase such a system was presented before the Empowered Committee of the Forest Department (IFDP) that met on September 23, 1998.

A GIS interpretation centre, along with imagery processing units, was to be set up at the office of the Conservator of Forests Research and Working Plan, and 10 other small-scale units were to be set up in different zones at an estimated cost of Rs 6 crore.

'The Times of India' has found that though the decision to purchase GIS ought to have been taken in co-ordination with the RESECO, an order was placed directly to the Gujarat Communications and Electronics Limited, Vadodara.

It has been learnt that during discussions at the empowered committee meeting, additional chief secretary (personal) A W P David had "emphatically suggested that the department should not decide to go for separate GIS because the state government has such a facility in RESECO".

Chief secretary L N S Mukundan too had directed the department to first study the available facility in RESECO and thereafter, if the department was still in need of an additional facility, to seek expenditure sanction, subject to budgetary provisions, consent from the Overseas Economic Co-operation Fund (OECF) and approval of the government, for setting up its own GIS.

Mukundan had also stressed the fact that the savings from the previous years under IFDP should be utilised mainly for core sector activities like plantation.

Interestingly, a proposal to carry out plantation in about 3,500 hectares at a cost of Rs 504 lakh was forwarded to the state government on November 17, 1998 by the principal chief conservator of forests A P Misra. However, before the government's sanction was received, the same official wrote on January 15, 1999 that the time to grow nurseries was past.

Permission was finally granted by the government to purchase GIS worth Rs 6 crore from the savings resulting out of "under achievements" during the first two years of the IFDP, that is, in the financial years 1995-96 and 1996-97.

The state government, incidentally, had not been able to utilise nearly Rs 28.11 crore in OECF funds during this period.

RESECO, following an intimation by the forest department, had replied on December 16, 1998 that it would be in a position to provide assistance to the latter in setting up GIS.

However, following discussions between conservator of forests (IFDP) Anil Johari and officials of the Gujarat Communications and Electronics Limited, a proposal was forwarded by GCEL to the PCCF for installation of GIS at a cost of Rs 5.5 crore.

The systems were to be fitted at the office of the CF (Research and Working Plan, Vadodara), at a training centre to be situated at GEER Foundation (Gandhinagar), and at zonal centres to be located in the office of the director, Marine National Park, Jamnagar; CCF (PPME) and RESECO, Gandhinagar.

They were also to be set up at the offices of the deputy conservator of forests at Junagadh (WP), Sasan, Godhra (territorial), Vadodara (WP), Surat (WP), Rajpipla (east), Dangs (north) and Valsad (north).

Novel bid to sound CM against power tariff hike Tuesday, December 12, 2000

RAJKOT: The Morbi Chamber of Commerce has asked residents of the region to write postcards to Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel voicing their resentment against the proposed hike in electricity tariff.

Chamber president Bechar Patel has urged the people to write to the chief minister seeking withdrawal of the proposed hike. According to Patel, the proposed hike could be withdrawn as there was a difference of only 13 per cent in transmission loss compared to 34 per cent loss estimated by the commission and 21 per cent by the Gujarat Electricity Board

The 13 per cent loss amounting to a financial loss of Rs 900 crore could be subtracted from the proposed hike and Rs 20 crore could still be saved by economising, Patel said. Patel alleged that the government was in fact interested in collecting as much money as possible from the people by imposing such hikes and new taxes.

Meanwhile, the Rajkot Chamber of Commerce has extended its support to the agitation launched by the Forum for Chambers Association and Industry to protest against the proposed hike in electricity tariff by the commission.

Meanwhile, GEB chairman Nalin Bhatt, addressing a meeting of board officials at Gondal said the GEB would make all efforts to eradicate power theft from the state. Bhatt warned employees of the board that it would be forced to take stern action against its staff who showed laxity in this regard. He said it was necessary to save the board from the present critical situation.

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