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November 10, 2000 - November 11, 2000

Railways introduce regulations on Tatkal scheme Saturday, November 11, 2000

AHMEDABAD: The railways have introduced certain regulations for passengers travelling under the Tatkal scheme and senior citizen concessions.

Under the Tatkal scheme no concessions will be allowed and the passengers availing the facility will have to pay the actual cost.

For booking under this scheme, a credit card or a laser laminated photo identity card with a serial number or voter's identity card or driving licence with photograph or passport or ration card would be essential in case of non-availability of the session ticket, identity card or the Tatkal identity card issued by the railways.

A person obtaining tickets for his family members by producing his personal identity cards, should travel with his family members. In case the person chooses to cancel his trip, the tickets of the family members also stand invalid.

The passengers getting tickets under the Tatkal scheme need to produce the specified identifications on the train, failing which the journey will be treated as one without ticket and a suitable penalty will be imposed. Refund for cancellations of confirmed tickets under the Tatkal scheme will not be allowed.

Even senior citizens availing concessions of 30 per cent are expected to carry documentary proofs of their age during the journey. The proof can come in the form of certificate issued by a government body or a local body. The concession can be obtained on all classes and in all trains on a written application by the applicant.

Surat civic body committees formed Saturday, November 11, 2000

SURAT: Despite the near revolt, allegedly caused by former mayor and Kashiram Rana loyalist Fakir Chauhan, in the general board meeting on October 25, the chairmen of the 11 municipal committees like octroi, property and health department were announced as per the original plan.

Chairmen for the 11 committees were announced and sworn in on Thursday, the same 11 teams against whom the khajurias had upped the ante by refusing to attend the general board meeting and almost causing the defeat of the BJP in the SMC on Diwali day.

Meanwhile, 18 councillors, out of the 20 who had remained steadfastly behind Chauhan and had allegedly met at Chauhan's house when their presence was crucial in the general board meeting, tendered an apology to city party president Praveen Naik.

In a joint letter signed by them, they said they had not attended the general board meeting because of personal reasons and they would ensure their presence at the meeting in future.

With the councillors taken care off, it is now left to be seen if the party state unit takes action against Chauhan. Naik, who is also the leader of the ruling party in the SMC, has recommended strong action against Chauhan.

State party president Rajendrasinh Rana told TOI that he was waiting for the report of the two-member fact finding committee before taking any step.

State policy to safeguard women's rights sought Saturday, November 11, 2000

AHMEDABAD: Voluntary organisations working for the uplift of women against poverty and violence, in a memorandum drafted at a state-level meeting organised by Sanchetna, have demanded a state policy to safeguard their rights on lines of similar policies announced by Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal and a few other states.

Sanchetna, which runs SAHRWARU (women's action and resource unit), organised the meeting which was attended by 20 top NGOs and other voluntary organisations working for the uplift of women.

The meeting was organised as part of the World March of Women 2000 initiative where voluntary organisations from 200 nations drafted the memorandum which was submitted to UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan in New York on October 17.

As part of the World March of Women 2000, voluntary organisations, including Jyoti Sangh, Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, Karm Sangh, Centre for Social Studies, AWAG, Sarvodaya Mahila Jagruti Sangh, Surat Legal AID Centre and Shanti Deep, met to draft a memorandum to be incorporated in the national demands as per world march initiative. Principal secretary and incharge of the social justice and empowerment department L Mansingh represented the government at the meeting.

Apart from the state policy, organisations demanded that long-pending demands of several networks of the state commission for women and minorities be realised. Atrocities against women be recognised not just as social problem but as serious crime. The role and responsibility rest with the law enforcing agencies in bringing to book perpetrators of the crime

Activist Sheeba George said the other demands included alleviation of poverty, need to strengthen the public distribution system at rural, tribal and urban levels, prioritisation of basic needs of secure housing, water, sanitation and affordable health services.

Here liquor flows freely Friday, November 10, 2000

VADODARA: She sits there like Madame Defarge, knitting with great concentration. There is squalor all around her charpoy placed outside her shack; stray dogs roam the narrow lane, under-nourished children cry for attention.

Ask Hetalben "kem cho", and she will say "maja ma". For, the squalid condition around her is but a facade. Hetalben (name changed) is one of the many running the most lucrative business in Dandiya Bazaar's Kaharpara area - selling country liquor. While the police choose to look away, local residents dare not raise a voice and many, including political leaders, share the spoil, Dandiya Bazaar makes a mockery of prohibition laws in the state.

"It's been running for years. The Kahars, who are originally the doli bearers, now eke out a living by selling fish. But, every Kahar house in this part of Dandiya Bazaar sells country liquor. We are in a fix - neither can we leave this place as we cannot leave our ancestral home nor can we protest," says a resident, begging not to be quoted. "They will beat me up," the man says.

Business starts right from nine in the morning. While the men mostly while away their time, it's the women who sit on charpoys outside their shacks with cans of country liquor, cleverly camouflaged. People pour in throughout the day for a swig or two that sell for Rs 10 a glass and sometimes more. They are also served fried fish and meat.

However, the crowd increases and gets more and more boisterous as dusk sets in. "Drunken brawls are a common phenomenon here. These often lead to big fights and even murder. But, hardly any of these get reported. For us it's hell every evening, having to live with the cacophony, the abuses and even eve-teasing," says another resident. Shopkeepers say many anti-social elements extort money from them to buy their liquor and many demand food.

Residents say police raids have hardly had any effect on this business that is "run virtually openly".

Police sources say that these sellers get to know about raids well in advance and manage to flee. And, all efforts to stem the flow of liquor from places like Por, Ramangamdi, Vasad and Waghodia have come to a naught in the past.

Added to this is the problem of traffic congestion and lack of adequate parking space. Dandiya Bazaar being one of the busy commercial areas, with a large number of banks, doctors' chambers and restaurants, roads remain cramped and people jostle among each other for parking space.

"Shops, offices and banks attract heavy traffic throughout the day. Though Alkapuri and Sayajigunj have developed into busy business centres, the importance of Dandiya Bazaar has not diminished and the area continues to draw a lot of people," says Suyog Mule, a resident of Dandiya Bazaar.

Inspite of its importance, Dandiya Bazaar has hardly got its due from the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) in terms of maintenance and upkeep. Even corporator from the area Jigisha Sheth feels that despite repeated requests to the administrative wing of the VMC, little has been done.

A case in point is the old Gaekwad era kaash (a natural storm water drain) running across the area and draining into the Vishwamitri. The kaash, which is now a cemented drain, is hardly cleaned. Sewage water from the societies flow into it while doctors' clinics use it as a dumping ground for their bio-medical waste.

Residents also dump their garbage into it, turning it into a breeding ground for mosquitoes and flies and is thronged by pigs and cows. The area, known as the "Ladki ka pul" after the use of a wooden bridge across the kaash, is an eyesore today.

A pipeline, meant to carry excess water from Sursagar Lake into it, often remains blocked. "There have been times when pigs have got stuck in the pipeline and died. This emanates a stench and makes it difficult for us to stay here," says Govind Kachhia, a shopkeeper.

RTO launches surprise raids to improve revenue collection Friday, November 10, 2000

AHMEDABAD: The Regional Transport Office (RTO) at Ahmedabad has launched a series of surprise raids on various establishments in an attempt to identify loss of vehicle tax.

This was informed by RTO Vadodara and Ahmedabad (in-charge) D.L. Pandya. Pandya said that his priority at the moment was to increase revenue and a drive had been initiated by the department in this direction. Pandya expressed the fear that many transport operators were transporting vehicles inside the state without payment of due taxes. He said that a revenue target of Rs 100 crore had been decided.

While several attempts were made to increase revenue collection, the focus, he said, was on preventing theft of revenue and apprehending those who had already managed to do so.

In this endeavour, the regional transport office had launched raids in surrounding areas. These have led to surprising disclosures about major companies with on-going projects not having paid hefty dues. Various vehicles being used in national projects in and around the city have not been registered, he said. Raids have revealed companies where such payments have been pending for as long as five years, he said.

Pandya said that the cordon around such illegitimate vehicles would be tightened, and called upon transport operators to pay taxes in due time. He said that the RTO officials as part of the drive would, henceforth, detain such vehicles and in case tax was not paid, heavy penalties would be imposed on the defaulter.

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