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December 2, 2000 - December 5, 2000

Groupism led to debacle in recent poll: Sanghani Tuesday, December 5, 2000

RAJKOT: Amreli MP Dilip Sanghani has confessed that widespread groupism prevailed in the BJP in Gujarat. "It is essential to get rid of the groupism by removing elements working against the party. Only then can the party be revived to its past glory", he added.

About his recent meeting with chief minister Keshubhai Patel at Gandhinagar, he said that they had discussed steps to strengthen the party. Besides, topical issues like initiating relief works in the drought-hit Amreli district also came up.

Referring to the party's debacle in the recent panchayat and civic elections, he alleged that groupism was responsible for it as tickets were given to candidates on factional basis. There was no objection to give tickets to newcomers but leaders accepted by the people should not be ignored.

"Those who had given tickets were responsible for the reverses. It could recur if groupism persisted in the party", he warned.

3 Babbar Khalsa members remanded to custody Monday, December 4, 2000

AHMEDABAD: Three members of the Babbar Khalsa militant outfit, nabbed from a hotel in Mumbai on December 1, were produced before a magistrate here on Saturday and remanded to police custody till December 15.

The three had planned to kidnap former Gujarat Chief Minister Amarsingh Chaudhary for ransom, which was to be sent to their counterparts operating from Pakistan.

The three - Yusuf Hasanbhai Memon, 40, Sharif Miya Amir Miya Shaikh, 34, and Sudhakar Baburao Chavan, 47 - were wanted by the city crime branch for waging war against India, police said.

The three notorious criminals were also working for dreaded militants Sarabjit Singh and Swaroop Singh Gill - members of the Babbar Khalsa militant outfit currently in jail here in connection with seizure of RDX, they said.

The accused had also prepared a plan to kidnap eminent eye specialist Amit Shah from Ahmedabad along with the former chief minister for ransom which was to be sent to terrorists - Wadhva Singh and Mahal Singh - operating from Pakistan for Babbar Khalsa, police said. (PTI)

State forest dept flouting SC stay order Monday, December 4, 2000

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat forest department has been violating a Supreme Court stay order by cutting vast tracts of bamboo from the core forest areas of Shulpaneshwar and Purna wildlife sanctuaries and supplying them to a paper mill.

The department has even extended permits to cut the bamboo plants twice since the February 14, 2000, apex court judgment, which restrained all state governments "from ordering the removal of dead, diseased, dying or wind-fallen trees, drift wood and grasses from any national park or game sanctuary or forest".

The judgment said: "If any order to this effect has already been passed by any of the respondent states, the operation of the same shall stand immediately stayed".

Yet, the forest department extended the permit to cut the bamboo plants in March and April to be supplied to the Central Pulp Mills, Songadh in Surat district. It also justified the move saying extensive growth of bamboos, when dry, could cause forest fires.

The Supreme Court had in its earlier judgment on December 12, 1996, directed "The felling of trees in all forests is to remain suspended except in accordance with the working plans of the state government, as approved by the central government".

However, on March 14, 1997, the apex court had "clarified that the directions contained in the order dated December 12, 1996, and this order would not apply to minor forest produce, including bamboos".

But the latest judgment in February this year clearly stated that no forest produce whatsoever was to be removed from the forests.

A letter drawing attention of the then principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) A P Misra towards the order was sent by a government advocate in the court Hemantika Wahi on February 21, 2000.

Subsequently, Misra had forwarded a letter on February 25, 2000, directing the chief conservators and other officials "to ensure scrupulous compliance of the orders and directions issued from time to time by the Supreme Court".

Despite the Supreme Court stay order and the PCCF's letter, the forests and environment department issued a government resolution (WLP-1195-1895-ga.1) on March 8, 2000 "by order of and in the name of the Governor of Gujarat" extending the permission to cut and remove the bamboos from Purna and Shulpaneshwar sanctuaries in South Gujarat.

The department, following a letter dated October 6, 1999, of the chief conservator of forests (wildlife) had on December 10, 1999, issued a resolution number WLP-1199-1869-ga.1 allowing cutting and removal of bamboo by the department itself.

The resolution was based on the proposals forwarded by the CCF (wildlife) G A Patel, justifying it on the grounds that "there has been a tremendous growth of bamboo in both the sanctuaries and that there was a threat of forest fire from the dry bamboo, if they were not allowed to be cut".

Considering the representations, the department granted permissions under Section 29 of the Amendment (1991) to the Wildlife Protection Act (1972), to remove the bamboo for forest management. The activity was to be carried out under departmental supervision as per the bamboo selection system of the working plan.

The lops and tops of the bamboo plants were sought by the Central Pulp Mills, Songadh, through a letter on November 11, 1999. The same was to be supplied to them on payment of charges for supervising and cutting the bamboo. The long and whole stems of bamboo plant were to be provided at concessional rates to the co-operative societies. The original permission was valid till February 29, 2000.

When contacted minister for environment and forests Kanjibhai Patel and principal secretary environment and forests Arjun Singh were not available for comments.

ASE to start DP by December Saturday, December 2, 2000

AHMEDABAD: The Ahmedabad Stock Exchange (ASE) is in the mood for additions and alterations. So it seems when you take into account two of the changes that the bourse has planned to gift to investors in the city. Come December 1 and the money-rich Amdavadi will stand to gain from dual services: the new ASE 18 index, which is to include concentrated IT scrips and a new scheme whereby the exchange will start its own depository participant (DP) company.

Speaking to The Times of India, executive director the stock exchange of Ahmedabad Rajiv Desai said: "We are in the process of introducing more advanced measures. And as part of this endeavour, we are going to start our own DP by the end of this month or next month."

Through the DP, services will be extended to investors at absolutely no cost. "Investors will be offered zero cost services provided they trade over the Ahmedabad browsers. In case one opts to trade in other exchanges, he will be charged at no cost plus charges, i.e. the investor pays only that cost which is charged by the National Depository Services Limited (NSDL)."

For all the services provided, the new company, christened ASE Capital Market Depository Participant, would not charge any service fee against the fat sums charged by most of the 20-odd DPs based in Ahmedabad. ASE has earmarked a total investment of Rs 50 lakh for the DP, out of which Rs 30 lakh has already been spent towards setting up of hardware and software and new furniture that will be housed in the exchange's existing premises.

The exchange has also instructed brokers, who will enjoy the sub- DP status, not to charge their customers.

As for staff, ASE has already appointed five management trainees, some of who are engineers while the others are accountants. "According to NSDL norms, an exchange is not allowed to function as a DP. But we offer services from the ASE DPCH, the clearing house, where these five employees are being imparted training."

On the exchange's connection with the BSE, members, who can already view proceedings on the BSE today, can get totally connected with the premier stock exchange and begin trading within 20 days. "Towards this, we have invested around Rs 2.5 crore for bringing in place a risk management system that will help the bourse to get easy connectivity."

The local stock exchange has already become a member of the Calcutta Stock Exchange (CSE) and has received SEBI nod. However, as for connectivity, CSE does not have the messaging layers, technically termed the intermediate messaging layers or IML, through which mainframe computers in the ASE can talk to computers at the CSE using a common language.

"This layer has to be provided fast. The other option lies in that we have to get VSAT, leaseline connections. We are installing 25 terminals in eight months which will allow members to browse proceedings at Calcutta. The IML will be ready in about nine months."

Justifying the need for a new index, Desai said an index should be representative of the ongoing trends in the market. "In our case, we found out that concentrated trading went to certain IT stocks which we did not cover while there were some securities which were not being traded much due to diminishing investor interest. It was then that we felt the need for a relook. An Index Reforms Committee was formed and 18 scrips were identified. Thus, the name ASE 18. Those IT scrips performing well on the bourse include Infosys, Pentamedia, Wipro, Zee, Rolta, Satyam Computer, Global Tele, DSQ Soft and HLL.

Lamenting that the number of scrips being traded today project a sorry figure, Desai said in Ahmedabad, out of 3,500 scrips, while 700 are regional companies based in the city, only 70 scrips are being traded. On the BSE too, only 1,000 are being traded out of the approximate 10,000 listed. "We are planning to increase the number of securities traded to around 200."

60% blood transfusions are irrational Saturday, December 2, 2000

VADODARA: Until recently, the spread of HIV infection in India was mainly due to infected blood transfusions. More than 35 per cent cases of HIV-positive patients who were diagnosed at the SSG Hospital in the past two years were infected due to HIV contaminated blood transfusion.

Gujarat State Aids Control Society (GSACS) additional director Dr Saxena told The Times of India that 60 per cent blood transfusions that are conducted in India are irrational.

In a study undertaken by SSG Hospital's department of Skin and VD head Dr Yogesh Marfatia revealed that out of the 31 children diagnosed with HIV, 25 per cent were infected due to blood transfusion. Out of these merely 2 per cent were patients of Thalessemia and genuinely required blood transfusions. "The rest could have avoided HIV infection if blood transfusion was avoided as there was no genuine indication for transfusion," says Dr Marfatia.

"In India, around 60 per cent of blood transfusions are single bottle transfusions, which are of no use. This trend of transfusion of blood in small quantities is dangerous. It indicates that blood is used as a therapeutic or a medicine even when the indication is not present. This is a faulty procedure that increases the risk of HIV transmission," says Dr. Saxena.

According to him blood transfusions that are irrational add to the risk of a person contracting HIV due to several factors. First, blood transfusions even when the blood is screened for infections can be dangerous. If the donor has contracted HIV within the past six months which is the window period, the blood test for HIV might be negative despite the presence of the virus. This infected blood would then be used.

Second, blood donation in India is extremely low and therefore use of blood when not really required, adds to the shortage of blood that already exists, leading to proliferation of professional donors who have a higher risk of being HIV positive.

Dr Saxena says that a minimum blood loss of at least 1000 ml (in an adult) can be construed as a condition where blood transfusion can be considered rational. Giving one unit of blood, which is the general tendency amongst many private practitioners, is irrational and leads to wastage of blood, he said.

Dr Marfatia says that the WHO has stressed on the need to curtail use of blood to bare minimum so that blood shortage that exists in India can be overcome. This is also one of the methods to ensure that blood shortage is curtailed and professional blood donors are discouraged.

As per WHO, in a given healthy population at least 5 per cent of the people should donate blood. However, in India less than 1 per cent people donate blood. This leads to a shortage of blood and therefore encourages the use of professional donors, which in turn increase the risk of HIV contaminated blood.

According to gynaecologist Priti Shah, the use of blood components in the form of cellular components, plasma components and plasma derivatives helps in overcoming shortage of blood as well as rationalises the use of blood. "Blood should be used only when genuine conditions prevail. In case of severe life threatening blood loss alone should this kind of transfusion be used," she says.

"In most developed countries, whole blood transfusions are almost non-existent as all blood banks have the facilities to divide one unit of blood into three components. In most genuine cases when blood donation is required, it is a part of the component such as plasma or packed cell etc which are required. In Vadodara, the Jalaram Blood Bank is one of the only government recognised centres where the facility to undertake division of whole blood in components exists," she says.

As per the WHO guidelines, regular blood donation by healthy individuals is a must to avoid HIV transmission as well as other infections such Hepatitis C and B. A healthy individual can donate blood regularly after every three months of interval.

Despite the strict norms adopted by the government to screen all blood samples that are donated, there is always a risk of contracting infection. If the blood donor is HIV-positive but has contracted the infection less than six months ago, the HIV would not be present in the blood and it might be used. Blood donations should therefore, whenever possible, be discouraged.

Avoiding HIV transmission through blood transfusions:

* Except in life saving crucial stages, blood transfusion should be avoided.

* Blood should not be used as a tonic or a medicine.

* A large number of HIV positive cases were infected through blood transfusion (many of which were not required).

* Help avoid HIV by regular and voluntary blood donation.

* Use of fragmented blood components rather than whole blood should be encouraged.

* Anaemia during pregnancy should be avoided so that chances of requiring blood transfusions are minimised during delivery.

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