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November 6, 2001 - November 6, 2001

Clinton likely to visit quake-hit Gujarat again Tuesday, November 6, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
Come January 26, and Kutch will lay red carpet for former US president Bill Clinton, who is likely to visit the border district exactly a year after it was ravaged by a devastating earthquake.

Clinton had visited the district in Gujarat in June as the head of an American India Foundation (AIF) team to explore possibilities of cooperation with local agencies in rehabilitation of the quake-stricken people.

The quake, measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale, killed about 25,000 people and left tens of thousands homeless. Kutch bore the brunt of the devastation as the epicentre lay in the district.

AIF trustee Mike Patel said that in all probability Clinton's wife Hillary and former US president Jimmy Carter would accompany him. Carter is carrying out several projects related to housing in Africa and is keen to visit Kutch.

"Our foundation has funnelled $3 million for rehabilitation work in Kutch. Besides this, another $3 million is also in the pipeline," said Patel, adding the grant package would be worth $12 million.

Patel was in the forefront of organising the high profile visit by Clinton. He is taking stock of the rehabilitation work carried out by agencies assisted by AIF.

He visited several villages in Kutch as well as Ahmedabad, which was the second worst affected area.

According to Patel, AIF funds NGOs conducting rehabilitation projects in Kutch district. Organisations like the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), Janavikas, Kalaraksha and the Kutch Navnirman Abhiyan, which have focussed their work in 20 villages of the district, are being funded by AIF.

"We have received applications from these organisations for further funds. The applications are under consideration," said Patel.

After his tour of Kutch, Patel said that he could feel that the anxiety that people had after the quake had subsided and people had gradually come to terms with the existing conditions.

"I saw children learning at computer education centres. Most housing projects are up to 60-70 per cent complete. Handicrafts and self-sufficiency projects are doing well," he observed.

"The NGOs that have done substantial work will definitely receive all possible aid from us."

AIF has on its board of trustees several top American Indians.

On the eve of the September 11 terror strikes in the US, AIF organised a dinner in Chicago as part of a fund raising programme for rehabilitation in Kutch.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Surat Diwali lacks the sheen as before Tuesday, November 6, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
SURAT: Perhaps the glitter of gold has failed to attract the Surtis this year even when Diwali is around, as several of the city-based gold and silver showrooms are yet to register any peak in their sales generally associated with pre-Diwali shopping.

Over the years, the greatest attraction of Diwali is the shopping fervour which descends on people, just to go along with the festival of the goddess of wealth. But, the Surtis are yet to get ready with a budget plan to be on shopping spree. No wonder, the shopping complexes in their best decorative forms are still having deserted look with no crowd as such to catch one's attention.

But, to woo the customers, many shops and commercial establishments have come out with attractive schemes and plans. Shopkeepers at Parle Point and Ghod Dod Road admit low turn out of potential customers and say that the buying will peak up in a day or two but certainly they are not anticipating any boom in their sales this year due to prevailing economic crisis and insecurity even among those in the higher income bracket following the global developments after the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11.

Says trader Harish Mathani, "With the market reeling under recession since a long time now, morale of the people have gone down. The attacks on the US only fuelled the crisis and gold prices shot up immediately after. Though it has come down somewhat, it has not encouraged people to spend notwithstanding the festive season."

Asha Joshi, a resident of Rander, had planned to buy around eight tolas (One tola is equal to 10 grams) of gold for her college-going daughter this Diwali. But the uncertainty in the market has prompted her to postpone the purchase to a later date.

Jyoti Gupta (27), too has changed her decision of buying a gold chain for herself. She has been saving money since January but is no longer sure of buying the chain, as she sees gold as an investment for the rainy day rather than as an ornament.

All this even as the price of gold remains more or less equal to that of last year. Bipin Soni of Gayatri Jewellers in the Tadwadi area of Rander is very clear when he says that the spirit of Diwali is missing this time. He attributes it entirely to the market recession. Looking at the current scenario, he is not expecting more than 50 per cent sales when compared to that of last year.

Ashok Pachhigar of Pachhigar and Sons Jewellers admits that sales of gold have been affected considerably. He says that recession has been in the market for more than a year now and rues the fact that people have developed a mentality of holding back their money and spending it only on necessary items. Since gold is not considered as a necessary expense, people desist from buying it.

Summing up the current situation, he says that customers are loyal to the price, not to the place where they buy their goods from, hence the question of having a set of regular customers buying during Diwali does not arise.

Bhushanbhai of Ajay Vijay Jewellers on the Ghod Dod road also agrees that they have registered a fall in the number of customers this Diwali in the section of gold ornaments. As far as silver goes, he feels companies are bound to give a bonus, hence they are giving items like silver coins to their employees. But he too echoes that the spirit is missing even in corporate buyers. While last year companies went for purchases of Rs 1,200 per item on a budget of Rs 1,000, this year they are cutting it down to Rs 800-900.

Perhaps silver will prove to be the silver lining in the cloud after all. As Dharmesh Pachhigar of Meera Art Jewellers in Chowk Bazaar says, they primarily deal in silver. Gold and diamond ornaments are made strictly on order. The recession has not affected them too much, says Dharmesh. He feels that people will not shy away from the purchases which they have to make. Though he is not expecting a very good profit this year, he is quite clear that they will not run into a loss either. Seems that the shine of silver will outlast that of gold, at least for this year.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Govt declares bonus for Class IV employees Tuesday, November 6, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
The state government has announced an ad hoc bonus for Class IV employees in and below the salary grade of Rs 2,650-4,000, working in the government, panchayats and organisations sustained on a cent-per cent grant.

The bonus is likely to impose a burden of Rs 25 crore on the state exchequer and will cover one lakh beneficiaries. Those grant-in-aid organisations which get government grants for meeting their establishment costs from will also get bonuses in the above salary grade.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Surat news roundup 06th Nov 2001 Tuesday, November 6, 2001

Housewife alleges torture over dowry
Jyoti Vijay of Sagrampura has complained at the mahila police station that she was constantly maltreated and harassed by her husband and seven members of his family who compelled her to bring a dowry of Rs 1 lakh. She was threatened with her life if she failed to bring it, she added.
Bardoli Chamber of Commerce
The Bardoli Chamber of Commerce was inaugurated on Monday by water supply minister Narottam Patel, who called for speedy industrialisation to develop the region.

Diploma course
The Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry has commenced a diploma course in marketing management to cater to the needs of business administration in Surat.
Suicide case
Ramfal Kumar (24), a native of Bihar, allegedly hanged himself to death at his residence at Sita Nagar, Pandesara on Saturday. He was reportedly suffering from a chronic disease.

Man lynched
An unidentified man around 30 years died on Saturday after he was lynched by people who took him for a thief. According to the police, the angry mob hit him on the hand and feet with sticks resulting in his death.

Woman robbed
Some unidentified men entered a flat at Katargram and took away valuables and cash worth Rs 30,000, after threatening the inmate Laxmi Patel, a widow, on Sunday.

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Relief in sales tax for Kutch industries Tuesday, November 6, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat government has formulated an incentive scheme, including relief in sales tax for industries to revive economic activities in Kutch district devastesd in the earthquake last January.

The scheme was finalised by Chief Minister Narendra Modi at a meerting with Industry Minister Suresh Mehta, who is in charge of Kutch district, and Finance Minister Nitinbhai Patel here on Sunday, an official release said.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, during a visit to Kutch, had announced exemption in octroi to industrial units and then Chief Minister Keshubahi Patel had assured that the state government would offer relief in sales tax to the district.

Under the incentive scheme benefits of octroi exemptions will be available to industrial units between July 31, 2001 and July 31, 2003. The relief in sales tax will be available to units established between July 31, 2001 and October 31, 2004.

Provisions have been made for "pipeline units". For this registration of application for small scale unit or medium or big unit must be done till October 31, 2004. Either land should be acquired or offer for land should be made from the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation before October 31, 2004.

These conditions should be fulfilled by October 31, 2004. Besides, a minimum 50 per cent investment of the "project cost" for such units should be made till October 31, 2004 and "commercial production" should be commenced before October 31, 2005.

The duration of the central octroi exemption is for five years. The exemption in sales tax relief, if linked to eligible investment, will be - for eligible investment of Rs 10 crore, sales tax relief will be for five years, for above Rs 10 crore, it will be for seven years and for above Rs 50 crore it will be for 10 years.

Relief in sales tax will be available till the completion of the ceiling fixed on eligible investment. In other words, if eligible concession is not utilised in a stipulated time, then no additional relief will be available for the remaining period.

Sales tax relief will be available in the form of "exemption" or "deferment". Sales tax relief could not be available in a mixed form. However, if in any particular unit the investment is made above Rs 100 crore, then the mixture of sales tax exemption and deferment benefits will be available.

For this, industrial units will have to submit certificates of chartered accountant, which contains details about the purchase of inputs and sale of finished goods. For items which are not covered by the Exim Policy, norms will be determined by the industries commissioner.

The state government has decided to give bennefits of sales tax incentives to those industries which are not covered under central excise notification.

The Chief Minister has expressed confidence that the incentives will revive economic activities in the quake affected Kutch district.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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