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November 5, 2001 - November 5, 2001

HSL to commission bromine plant at Kharaghoda Monday, November 5, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
Hindustan Salts Limited, the only public sector company engaged in the manufacture and sale of salt, will commission its bromine plant at Kharaghoda in Surendranagar district on November 9.

The plant, with a capacity of 300 tonnes per annum (TPA), will be expanded to manufacture 900 TPA of bromine in the next two years, according to the chairman and managing director of the company, Air Cmde. (Retd) J S Kalra. The methodology used for the extraction of bromine is called "glass tower technology" which is the latest and at par with the most modern technology in the world, he said.

HSL has a number of locations where salt is produced , including Kharaghoda in Surendranagar (Gujarat) , Sambhar in Jaipur district (Rajasthan) , Mandi in Himachal Pradesh and Ramnagar in Nainital district of Uttaranchal. It is using solar energy in Gujarat for the production of salt. Saline water from marine or underground sources is allowed to evaporate to such an extent that salt crystallises when the concentration of salt in the saline water reaches saturation levels.

An HSL press release said that after the salt is extracted, the remaining 'mother liquor' or 'virgin bitterns' remains in the pans. This waste product is harmful and needs to be handled properly so as not to pollute the environment. Depending upon the source of brine water, the composition of virgin bitterns varies. After some studies, it was found that the bitterns produced in Kharaghoda are rich in bromides and can become a source for bromine .

HSL said the country is facing deficiency in bromine and it has to be imported from several countries leading to a drain on foreign exchange. Besides bromine, there are other compounds as well which can be commercially extracted.

The function at Kharaghoda to dedicate the plant on Friday will be attended by state industries minister Suresh Mehta , social justice and empowerment minister Fakirbhai Vaghela and member of parliament Savshibhai Makwana.

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

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Official suspended for negligence of duties Monday, November 5, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: Mehsana social security officer D P Patel was suspended for negligence of duties and alleged indiscipline by state social justice and prohibition minister Fakirbhai Vaghela. In an official release Vaghela said Patel was spending more time at her hometown of Surat while claiming to be touring villages in Mehsana.

Officials of the department investigated the matter after receiving a complaint and caught Patel red-handed in Surat when she should have been in Jantral village of Vijapur taluka. Patel has also been accused of providing fake travel bills, supplying fake bills to claim house rent allowance and many other financial irregularities.

The release added that Vaghela wants to make such cases into examples for other officials and bring in more sensitivity into the administration.

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

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Advani to open TOI school for cyclone victims Monday, November 5, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Union minister Lal Krishna Advani will inaugurate on Monday a school building and primary health and community centre built by the Times Of India Relief Fund for victims of the 1998 Kandla cyclone.

The school and the health and community centre has been built in Ganesh Nagar area of Sector 6 at Gandhidham from funds collected by The Times of India immediately after the cyclone. An amount of Rs 50 lakh was raised for the victims of the cyclone by the TOI Relief Fund.

Union minister of state for shipping Ved Pakash Goyal will also attend the function. Several prominent figures of Kutch will witness Advani handing over the building key to the Kutch zila panchayat president Jagrutiben Shah.

The land for the project was provided by the district development officer after acquiring it from the Kandla Port Trust, and is located in the middle of a resettlement colony. The area is inhabited by underprivileged sections of the society and the buildings are some of the most well-equipped structures in the region for the purpose of education and health.

A spokesperson for the TOI management said: "While there were many efforts to provide immediate succour to the cyclone victims, this facility looks at long-term rehabilitation and uplift of the people affected by the natural calamity." The school building has 12 spacious classrooms besides space for facilities like staff room, library etc. Adequate electricity fittings and facilities for drinking water have been provided. Besides, entertainment facilities for children, including swings and slides, have also been provided in the large open space available.

The TOI Relief Fund is also helping victims of the earthquake in a big way through various NGOs which are engaged in rebuilding activities, especially in the area of education. The fund also got repairs done recently on a school in Morbi which had been constructed by the fund after the dam burst in the late 70's. The school had been damaged in the January 26 earthquake.

The Times Foundation, which manages the fund, has already committed about Rs 16 crore for earthquake rehabilitation in Kutch and some other affected districts of Gujarat. The foundation has entered into partnerships with NGOs like Vivekananda Research and Training Institute, Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA), Ahmedabad Women's Action Group (AWAG), Bharat Sevashram and London Earthquake Relief Fund for carrying out reconstruction of houses, relocation and rebuilding of villages and repair of school buildings.

Shipping minister Goyal will also lay the foundation of a Times Foundation-Tolani Institute of Pharmacy hostel building at Adipur on Monday.

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Rajkot farmers raise objections over tags attached to support price Monday, November 5, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
RAJKOT: Farmers of Rajkot district have strongly opposed to the tags attached by the state government on the purchase of groundnut through the support price mechanism. The move is expected to boomerang into a farmers' agitation if steps are not taken to withdraw them.

Sources in the agriculture market said the government guidelines are so strict that adhering to them will affect the farmers financially. Guidelines like cleaning of groundnut before bringing them to the market are unviable as around 1,000 to 1,500 bags arrive from various centres daily.

Besides this, farmers are required to produce the 'khedut pothi' issued to them in original to prove that he/she is a farmer. Moreover, a clause says farmers would be issued bearer cheques payable 15 days after bringing their produce to the market yard. And there was no guarantee that payments would be made on time.

The farmers demanded that they be paid in cash on the day their produce is brought to the yard. Meanwhile, two government agencies -- GUJCOMASOL and NAFED -- on Thursday started the purchase of groundnut through the support price fixed by the government from Amreli and Rajkot.

Farmers in Saurashtra, considered the groundnut bowl of the country, harvested a bumper crop this year. However, due to the lack of any support price mechanism for their produce, they had to face huge financial losses.

State agriculture minister Purshottam Rupala initiated the purchase process through auction and the price for each quintal of groundnut was fixed at Rs 1,342.50.

According to a rough estimate, the total output of groundnut in the state is around 21 lakh tonne of which GUJCOMASOL has agreed to purchase one lakh tonne. Rupala said the co-operative body also purchased bajra worth Rs 3 crore under the support price mechanism. He said the state government has also sent a proposal to offer support price mechanism for maize and other agricultural produce.

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

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Fisherman still have sleepless nights Monday, November 5, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
RAJKOT: Pakistani piracy inside Indian territorial waters off the Gulf of Kutch has been a source of permanent pinprick for more than a decade. And reeling under this perennial threat the fishing industry on the Saurashtra-Kutch coast has received a body blow as fishermen live under the shadow of fear. Frustration and fear are their unwanted companions.

The intrusion of Pakistani Maritime Agency into Kutch-Saurashtra waters has been rampant and every year scores of incidents of kidnapping of fishermen along with their boats take place. But fishermen have learnt to live with the threat not only to their livelihood but to their very existence.

The latest incident of intrusion by Pakistani Maritime Agency in the Gulf of Kutch early this week has sent shock-waves among thousands of fishermen and their families in Saurashtra and Kutch even as the earlier batch of kidnapped fishermen were released from Karachi jails.

According to the latest reports, Pakistani pirates had kidnapped a large number of Saurashtra fishermen early this week along with 28 boats, while they were busy with their normal fishing operations.

However, some 18 boats managed to free themselves from their clutches and reached the Saurashtra coast safely. But the remaining eight boats, with some 26 fishermen on board, were taken to Pakistan.

It was understood that six of these boats had sailed from the Porbandar coast, while the other two had gone from Okha port. In the wake of this intrusion and kidnapping incident a wave of shock and dismay has overtaken the fishermen in Saurashtra, Kutch and South Gujarat. As a result fishing operations have come to a standstill, at least for the time being.

The fishermen are hesitant to venture out fearing the recurrence of such incidents. The Pakistani piracy apart from endangering the entire fishing industry in Gujarat and India as a whole has also endangered the security of the country, as the Pakistani Maritime Agency violates Indian territorial waters frequently.

It is estimated that about three lakh persons in Gujarat earn their livelihood through fishing. A large majority of them are from Saurashtra, Kutch and South Gujarat. Over a million people are indirectly engaged in fishing-related business all over Gujarat.

There are about 18,000 fishing boats, half of which are mechanised. Most of them are based on the Saurashtra-Kutch coast at Veraval, Mangrol, Porbandar, Okha, Dwarka, Rupen, Jakhau, Koteshwar, Mandvi and Mundra.

Fish production in Gujarat as a whole is more than six lakh tonnes per year and earn valuable foreign exchange of more than Rs 600 crore.

The Pakistani 'proxy war' was launched in the early 90s, but was intensified after the Ayodhya episode in December 1992. Since then it has been a constant source of threat to fishermen.

Fishermen lament that inspite of this persistent onslaught, they do not get any protection from the government of India or the state government. Fishermen in Saurashtra and Kutch are observing 'bandhs' to air their problems for the last one decade without any success.

They lament that though the Indian constitution has guaranteed them the fundamental right to protection it was of no use. Their demand is that the Indian Coast Guard network should be expanded expeditiously and more bases set up at strategic coastal sites like Veraval, Mangrol, Okha, Dwarka, Mandvi, Koteshwar and Jakhau, with the necessary facilities like high-speed boats, wireless sets, arms and ammunition to protect them.

At present there is just one Coast Guard base at Porbandar, which is considered to be 'too inadequate', taking into consideration the needs of the fishermen and their security concern.

The avowed objective of Pakistani pirates, say fishermen leaders, is to hit Indian fishing as Pakistan is not able to compete with India in the international market.

Because of the suitability factor Indian fishermen stand to benefit and the Indian fishing industry has a lucrative share in the overseas market.

Fishermen in Saurashtra and Kutch do their fishing for six months a year. But the Pakistani pirates intrude into India's territorial waters via the Gulf of Kutch, off Jakhau, and scare away the fishermen by unlawfully seizing their boats and kidnapping them, and keeping them languishing in Pakistani jails.

Apart from the constant threat of Pakistani pirates, fishermen in Saurashtra and Kutch had also to face the threat of Taiwanese trawlers, which entered the Indian waters in large numbers a few years back with Pakistani support.

And the policy of liberalisation adopted by the Union government, in the wake of the new economic reforms, permitting foreign high-powered trawlers -- mostly from Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan -- for deep-sea fishing under the Maritime Zone Act inside Indian territorial waters had hit the local fishermen a few years ago.

However, following strong representations made by the fishermen's organisations and the then Gujarat government, the Union government had relented and gave up that policy, much to the relief of fishermen.

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

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