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November 25, 2000 - November 28, 2000

SPU fixes fees for self-financed colleges Tuesday, November 28, 2000

AHMEDABAD: Sardar Patel University, Vallabh Vidyanagar, has finally decided to follow the fees structure in private self-financed professional colleges fixed by the state-level committee for this academic year.

SPU vice-chancellor V S Patel issued a notification only on November 17 under emergency powers, asking all private non-aided professional institutions to follow the government notification on May 18 and had it approved by the executive council on November 18. Other universities in the state are already following the prescribed norms.

The decision was taken after BJP's Dhandhuka MLA and party spokesman Bharat Pandya requested governor and chancellor Sunder Singh Bhandari to institute an inquiry into the university's functioning.

Pandya had accused self-financed colleges under the university of charging fees above the prescribed limit, refusing to abolish the management quota in B Ed colleges and the number of court cases that the university had lost in the past five years.

He claimed colleges were charging a whopping Rs 16,000 from students instead of the prescribed Rs 6,000 for a B Com degree in English. For a BBA, they are charging Rs 12,000 instead of Rs 7,500 and Rs 27,000 instead of Rs 12,000 for a BCA.

Speaking to The Times of India, university registrar B Natraj refuted the charges saying they (the varsity authorities) had delayed the notification only because they had asked for certain clarifications from the state government.

"We had felt that the fees prescribed by the state-level committee were less compared to the ultra-modern facilities that we provide," he said. "We had no intention of not following government norms and would have implemented them after receiving a clarification."

Natraj takes pride in the fact that the university had one of the best maintained campuses in the state, apart from providing one computer for every two students and paying UGC-scale salaries to its teaching staff.

Sources in the education department on the other hand said if a notification had been issued now, it only meant the colleges had following their own set of fee structure.

It is believed that the seven colleges running BBA, BCA and

B Com (English) courses would have to collectively give back nearly Rs 1.60 crore to the students if they did not followed the norms. "I don't believe that colleges have been charging more," Natraj added.

The registrar also disagreed with the charge that B Ed colleges affiliated to the university had 10 per cent management quota with higher fees despite not being part of the centralised admissions process. In fact they would enter the centralised process from the next academic year according to the decision taken by the last executive council meeting.

The state government had written to the university to abolish the quota and implement the centralised process. The colleges were charged with taking Rs 1.5 lakh for the quota seats.

Wind up co-operatives dept: Kurien Tuesday, November 28, 2000

ANAND: Hoping that the Gujarat government would some day do away with its Co-operatives department, the father of the White Revolution, Dr Verghese Kurien, said that the department has been an impediment as far as the progress of co-operatives was concerned.

Kurien was addressing members of co-operatives during the inauguration of an auditorium-cum-dairy museum at Amul on Sunday. He said the decision taken on his request when the state was formed, of not having a milk department, had resulted in Amul emerging as a unique and successful co-operative.

Lauding the efforts of the milk co-operatives across the country, Kurien said that India, having over 1,000 milk co-operative societies had stopped importing milk. On the contrary it was exporting milk and milk-based products, he said.

"Foreign countries today are also inviting members of Amul to set up dairy co-operatives like ours and we are providing them assistance free of cost," Kurien said. Projects are on in countries like Sri Lanka, Uganda, Ehiopia, Kenya and countries in the South-East.

The dairy museum which was inaugurated by Kurien and his wife comes as a gift from Amul to Kurien on his 80th birthday. The museum has been dedicated by over 5 lakh milk producers of Karia District Co-operative Milk Producers Union to Dr Kurien as an acknowledgement of his contribution in developing Amul and other dairy co-operatives across the country under the Operation Flood programme.

The museum also has an auditorium with 100 seats where documentaries about the evolution of dairy co-operatives in India and other educational films will be shown. "This will be particularly useful for showing educational documentaries to the 10,000 dairy farmers who visit Amul every year," Dr Kurien said. Adjacent to the museum a replica of the garage where Dr Kurien spent his initial years has also been constructed.

The museum is an attempt in bringing history to physical forms and remembering the co-operatives movement which was inspired by leaders such as Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Moraji Desai, Tribhuvandas Patel and others.

Cong indulging in doublespeak on water issue: Bhatt Tuesday, November 28, 2000

RAJKOT: Former state civil supplies and health minister Ashok Bhatt said that the Bharatiya Janata Party would present a chargesheet before the people of Rajkot against the Congress leaders who were opposing water distribution from the Kheda region.

Talking to reporters here on Monday, Bhatt said that public awareness would be created against the doublespeak of the Congress on the water front. He said that while Congress leaders like Shankersinh Vaghela and Dinsha Patel were opposing water distribution from bores drilled in the Kheda region, they were also agitating against non-availability of water in parts of Saurashtra.

Bhatt said the BJP would expose the 'zillawad' (differentiating between districts) policy of the Congress and would tell the people that it was the Congress which was coming in the way of their getting water.

As many as 150 bores would be drilled in different areas of Kheda district from where water would be distributed to the parched land of Saurashtra. The entire project would cost Rs 15 to Rs 20 crore.

Meanwhile, Bhatt, showing his concern over water supply to Rajkot city, distributed a fact-sheet of water supply to 16 cities in Saurashtra in which Rajkot does not figure anywhere. On being asked whether the water supply to Rajkot would be affected as the ruling BJP had lost the Rajkot Municipal Corporation, Bhatt tried vainly to assure the media people that the city would not be left without water supply. He could not spell out any scheme that would supply water to Rajkot except the existing Wankaner Bore project.

Asked about the written complaint he made to the local Anti-Corruption Bureau regarding the affidavits filed by the Saurashtra Oil-Millers Association (SOMA) against corrupt practices in the civil supplies department, Bhatt said, "If SOMA is so keen to have a full-fledged inquiry, why is it hesitating in releasing the copies of the affidavit in public and to the press".

"Why did the SOMA members not approach the ACB when they knew that the civil supplies department officials were collecting money from them illegally," he asked.

Commenting on the High Court ruling in the case pertaining to his alleged involvement in the Ahmedabad riots, Bhatt said the court had absolved him and presently there were no charges against him.

Additional power cut to affect industries Saturday, November 25, 2000

RAJKOT: The additional one-day power cut imposed by the Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB) would adversely affect industries in the Saurashtra region.

The cut would cause immense hardship to industries like cement, foundries, plastic, diesel engines and machine tools in the Saurashtra region which is facing drought condition for the second consecutive year.

Not only that, most industries had to curtail production due to recession and will have to further decrease production due to additional power cut, sources told TOINS.

The diesel oil engine industry in Rajkot, which was on the verge of closure due to recession, got a new lease of life after some orders were received from Uttar Pradesh following good rainfall there.

Machine tools and foundry industries in the city, which were facing financial crisis due to recession, also got new life following demand of diesel engines from UP. But they would also be adversely affected due to additional power cut.

Meanwhile, president of the Rajkot Chamber of Commerce Dhirubhai Vithlani and president of the Rajkot Engineering Association Pravin Garala have strongly opposed additional power cut imposed by the GEB. They said small units would be hard hit as two-day power cut would affect production to a great extent.

GEB meet on Saturday to discuss ADB conditions Saturday, November 25, 2000

VADODARA: The board meeting of the Gujarat Electricity Board, taking place on Saturday, will discuss about the conditionalities of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for procuring the loan for GEB projects and restructuring of the power sector.

This meeting assumes significance because of state seeking a loan of $350 million from the ADB and the bank would meet in mid-December to finalise the issue. Before the ADB approves this loan, GEB must submit an action plan for 100 per cent metering of all the consumers, including farmers.

A three members of the Gujarat government team headed by additional chief secretary ( power ) Vijay Ranchan, additional chief secretary finance ( economic cell) Sudhir Mankad and GEB member finance M M Srivastav had been to Manila head quarter of ADB for negotiating with the bank for getting the loan. Out of this, $150 million are for GEB projects and $200 million for restructing of power sector.

Talking to The Times of India, Srivastav said that the bank's response was very positive and was hopeful of bank sanctioning this loan at its board meeting taking place on December 13.

The ADB conditions include making the transmission and distribution system commercially viable, approval to Power Reforms Bill, transferring of assets to the Gujarat transmission companies, corporatisation of GEB and some others. Most of the bank's conditionalities have already been conceded.

It was pointed out that the GEB has already formed a separate Gujarat Transmission Company some time ago while another company, Gujarat State Electricity Corporation, promoted by the GEB, is entrusted the task of setting up of new power stations in the state.

This company has already set up two units at Wanakbori and Gandhinagar in the state. The installed capacity of the each of the two units is 210 MW of power. Vilasini Ramchandran, IAS, is managing director of both these companies having its headquarter at Vadodara where GEB's head office is located.

The ADB wants transfer of assets to this new Gujarat Trasmission Company. GEB will transfer Gandhinagar and Utran units to this newly formed company thus satisfying bank's condition, the sources pointed out.

So far the Power Reform Bill is concerned, the state cabinet has already approved it and sent to the central government for its approval .

The question of restructuring of GEB would arise only after ADB makes study and survey of geb will take more than three to four years. the sources said .

The ADB wants corporatisation of GEB , which is regular process and it is going on , the sources said.The ADB also wants reduction in subsidy given to the farm sector , to which GEB has cited the power tariff order of GERC which has proposed five fold increase in power tariff for the farm sector.

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