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December 5, 2000 - December 7, 2000

Annapurna scheme finds few takers Thursday, December 7, 2000

RAJKOT: The Annapurna scheme, introduced by the state civil supplies department recently for selling essential commodities including washing powder and soaps along with the rationed items at a reasonable price to card holders has failed to attract the fair price shop owners in Rajkot district.

The scheme was introduced by the then state civil supply minister Ashok Bhatt with a view to providing other essential commodities produced by companies along with rationed items and enable the shop owners to earn more income.

But the scheme did not get a positive response from the fair price shop owners and they are not lifting such items from the state civil supply corporation.

They say that they could not afford to sell these items as the cost price of these items is higher than the price of the same items received directly from the companies.

Not only that, the main dealers of the companies are delivering the products free of cost at the shop itself while the fair price shop owners have to pay transport charges for taking same products from the corporation's godown, according to the district Fair Price Shop Holders Association sources. Moreover, the corporation authorities are forcing them to take delivery of a broken packet or bags of soap or washing powder and other such items, the sources added.

Even the consumers are not able to get any advantage of various schemes introduced by companies to promote the sale of their products as the corporation does not recognises these schemes.

Interestingly, the fair price shop owners have to make advance payment for purchasing items from the corporation while an ordinary shopkeeper has not to invest money for purchasing such items from the dealers but on the contrary he gets them on a week's credit.

Consequently, the goods purchased by the corporation under the scheme have accumulated in its godowns as the fair price shop owners are not interesting in buying them, the sources pointed out.

Temple motifs on clothes and home-furnishings Tuesday, December 5, 2000

AHMEDABAD: Imagine wearing fabric-impressions of ancient and medieval architecture of Gujarat. Ahmedabad-based Weavers' Service Centre, the only one of its kind in the state, is ready with a range of designs for apparels and home furnishings all of which are based on temple motifs. These designs are part of Rs 1.5 lakh-worth ministry of textiles project, aimed at merging the various genres of art. From the symbols on the temples' torans and the patterns on their walls, these exquisite designs woven on traditional fabric, are both works of art and also of utilitarian value.

Set up by the ministry, the centre has been involved in reviving both the dying and the extinct designs of the state and making them commercially viable. In this direction, they have earlier worked on a number of projects on traditional designs and coordinated with various design institutes and handloom marketers.

Their last project, based on the jaali works of Ahmedabad, was a hit at an international exhibition of textile designs, organised at Frankfurt. "The jaali project was taken by Gurjari and they are now exporting fabrics with that design, to Europe," says Dy Director of the centre, S C Charware, adding, "about 20 samples of the temple designs will be displayed at the ministry's textile expo to be held at Pune at the end of this month. Some other designs from the same project will be displayed at an handloom exhibition, to be held at Ahmedabad in the second week of January."

Explaining how and why the motifs were selected and the designs developed, N A Dhagat, one of the senior artists of the centre, says, "To begin with photographs of the motifs were taken and the art-works made. Thereafter, screens were made and proportionate diagrams made for textile, fabrics selected and finally, the designs were woven on textile. Within a month, we will be organising an exhibition in Ahmedabad where we will be displaying these designs and how these are conceptualised." One hopes that like the jaali designs, the temple designs also find commercial viability and these traditional designs receive both appreciation and a market for themselves.

Water crisis affects people's moods Tuesday, December 5, 2000

VADODARA: Water crisis seems to have affected the temperament of people in Santoshnagar and Atmaraj societies in Nizampura. Most people complain of getting irritated frequently and picking up fights at the drop of a hat.

"Water is in short supply. I don't know whether to wash my children's or my ailing father-in-law's clothes. I often pick up fights with my in-laws", says Jyotsana Patel (name changed) of Atmaraj Society. Most joint families in Atmaraj Society are witnessing increased incidence of family fights. The root cause of fights, as most families here say, is over water. "It's always over water. Water crisis is causing problems in the family", says Patel.

Hema Patel, a resident of the same society, thanks her stars for having a nuclear family. "We are saved from the mental tension but are put in difficult situation whenever we have guests", she says.

Like other societies in Nizampura, water pressure here is low too. Majority of people here cannot afford a private bore. The families who have deepened their underground tanks complain that water hardly reaches their tanks. "The water that reaches the underground tanks is just a trickle. This is even after deepening our tanks", says Kailash Joshi of Subhashnagar Society.

For many families in Santoshnagar Society, the monthly expenditure has doubled because of the water crisis. People frequent societies on bikes where water is available twice a day.

"I make at least four to five trips on my bike to collect water. My fuel cost has increased. At the end of the month, water costs me more than the fuel", says B M Pandya of Santoshnagar Society.

Govt institutes Vishwa Karma awards for Engg college toppers Tuesday, December 5, 2000

The state government has decided to institute 'Vishwa Karma Award' for toppers in engineering colleges.

Speaking at a function organised by the Gujarat branch of the Institute of Engineers, Patel said the decision has been taken to encourage students to show better performance in annual examinations in engineering colleges.

The minister also hailed the appointment of state roads and building principal secretary H P Jamdar as the national president of the Institute of Engineers, and P N Jain as chairman of the state chapter.

Patel said the government has accorded high priority to construction of state and national highways to strengthen the existing infra-structures facilities. He cited the example of Vadodara-Halol highway constructed on BOT basis. The work on the four-lane Ahmedabad-Mehsana highway was in full swing, he added.

Replying to the felicitation, Jamdar said the state government had adopted new techniques for construction of roads based on international specifications. He gave details of the checkdams constructed for water conservation in semi-arid areas of Saurashtra.

Two-third of villages declared drought-hit Tuesday, December 5, 2000

GANDHINAGAR: It's official. The drought of 2001 could be worse than the one the state witnessed this year. As an indicator of the shape of things to come, two-thirds of Gujarat was declared drought-affected by the state government on Wednesday.

After a formal Cabinet meeting, 12,240 villages out of a total of 18,356, five cities (except Surat), and a majority of towns have been listed as scarcity-hit.

The declaration came amidst an admission by Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel and finance minister Vajubhai Vala that the funds available to fight the scarcity year ahead were limited. Belonging to 22 of the 25 districts, 6,770 villages are 'fully scarcity-hit' while another 5,470 have been classified in the 'semi scarcity-hit' category.

Last year, 9,449 villages were declared drought-affected. Coming out of the Cabinet meeting, a senior government official said, "It is a continuous drought since 1999-end. So far we have spent Rs 800 crore on different drought-relief measures such as fighting water scarcity, and on providing fodder and employment at relief sites in the affected areas."

The state's calamity relief fund got exhaused quite some time ago, while according to Cabinet estimates, the government would require another Rs 1,000 crore to fight drought this financial year. A master plan would be out within a fortnight detailing how much more funds would be required.

"This is the minimum amount that we would need immediately. We will require much more funds than this," the chief minister told newspersons after the Cabinet meeting, where the grim financial situation cropped up for discussion.

Added finance minister Vala, "We will make a formal request to the Centre to provide as much funds as possible to fight drought," adding that so far Gujarat had received no money from New Delhi.

Officials expect many more people to join relief works this year as compared to the last time around. While by June-end last year, as many as 12 lakh persons reported for work at the different relief sites in the state, this year, with the drought having been declared two months earlier, the numbers are likely to swell considerably. Incidentally, migration from drought-affected areas in North Gujarat (mainly Panchmahals and Dahod), and parts of Saurashtra and Kutch has already begun.

The geographical spread of the drought this year has deepened with villages from Central Gujarat districts, most notably Vadodara's 1,236 villages, Kheda's 586 villages, Narmada's 454 villages, and Anand's 155 villages having been declared drought-affected. There was no scarcity in these areas last year. In fact, Vadodara tops the list of districts with villages declared drought-affected.

The three districts where scarcity has not been declared are -- Dangs, Navsari and Valsad, all in South Gujarat.

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