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January 4, 2001 - January 7, 2001

WREB warns SEBs of north-like tripping Sunday, January 7, 2001

VADODARA: Western Region Electricity Board (WREB) has instructed state electricity boards (SEBs) of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa to keep their operation of power systems to the permissive level to prevent a repeat of the power grid system failure that plunged five northern states into darkness recently.

Instructions have been sent out to these SEBs to ensure that the frequency does not drop to the non-permissive level of 48 KHz or below.

WREB chairman Nalin Bhatt said regional system load rises in the peak periods like December to January and April to June and the available generation sometimes proves to be inadequate to meet the system load.

"In such cases, the system falls to sub-normal levels. Frequency may suddenly drop to the non-permissive level or below when there is a sudden loss in generation due to tripping of a major generating unit or units of 200 MW or more capacity in the system. At such times, other healthy generators may also trip and stop functioning because of the prevailing low frequency," said Bhatt.

He stressed on the need to install under-frequency relays at various sub-stations to prevent collapse of system frequency.

Meanwhile, Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB) will also take up with the WREB the issue of overdrawal of power by Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board (MPSEB) from the central power projects. GEB feels this has been creating a critical power position in Gujarat, a reliable source told 'The Times of India'.

Power generated by the central sector power projects located in Korba, Vindhyachal, Tarapur, Jhanor, Kawas and Kakrapar is proportionately shared by Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Goa. The demand of power in Madhya Pradesh has gone up due to scanty rainfall and a drought-like situation.

When conditions are normal, as per a mutual understanding, a member SEB does not bother if its counterpart is overdrawing power. However, the situation this year has been different in Gujarat, which was in the grips of severe drought. North Gujarat needed power for drawing drinking water from tube wells, reservoirs and dams. More power is needed as water tables have been going down considerably.

Chaotic traffic in Mehsana: Authorities have washed hands Sunday, January 7, 2001

MEHSANA: Pot-holed bumpy roads almost everywhere in the city, stray cattle taking possession of the thoroughfares, absence of street lights, people's habit and liking for breaking rules compounded by the indifference of the concerned traffic authorities in Mehsana. The place is increasingly becoming anarchic right from the ONGC Nagar at Palavasana to Ramosana octroi check post on the highway, Modhera Chaar Rasta to the Bhamariya underbridge and beyond, the station road, the Rajmahal road to the police headquarters, Panvara to Hriday Chowk, the Biladi Baag road. In fact, no road or a thoroughfare has been left without traffic hazards and chaos.

When you enter Mehsana via Ahmedabad, the milk city or the oil city greets you with the filthy ambience, with the highway ravaged by rains two years ago, the disappearing divider dotted by twisted lamp posts and countless stray cattle. The nights are dark with dazzling lights of the vehicles making it impossible to sight the cattle or anything else on the road besides the divider. Innumerable auto garages have made the roadside filthy with piles of black dirty rags, grimy sand and oil slick covering roads at many places.

Owing to this traffic chaos, the intersection of five roads near Pashabhai Petrol pump on the highway has become an accident-prone area. This is one of the ugliest and most hazardous spots on the highway because of defective road engineering, absence of traffic control and reckless drivers.

The removal of cabins around the big traffic circle at Modhera cross-roads has eased some pressure on vehicles parked, however the hotels putting benches for their customers continue to contribute to congestion particularly during the peak hours.

The Radhanpur Chaar Rasta with the ugly outshaped barrels forming the circle forms another bottleneck with nobody to regulate the traffic.

According to DSP Ashish Bhatia, it has been decided at a recent meeting of the district traffic advisory committee to build a traffic circle, which has been pending since long, in a short time. The PWD have agreed to build it in two months time, he said. Similarly, a traffic circle at the cross-roads opposite Raj Kamal Petrol Pump is also on the cards, he added.

Bhatia said that in Mehsana it would not be possible to provide traffic signal system, as the topography of the cross-roads was such that it limits its feasibility. The role of traffic police he said was only to regulate the traffic during peak hours, particularly at Modhera and Radhanpur cross-roads and Bhamariya underbridge.

However, the police on these spots are found sitting leisurely in corners unaffected by the traffic jams.

The nagarpalika seems to pass the buck on the PWD for the maintenance of the electric poles and the payment of electricity charges. The president, Manisha Vyas, when contacted said that she was not aware whether it was the responsibility of the municipality or not about the menace of the stray cattle. She said that the nagarpalika did not have a panjrapole to accommodate and feed these cattle and the panjrapole of the Jains would like the nagarpalika to foot the expenses on fodder.

However, it was reliably learnt that the Visnagar MLA who had attended the meeting of the traffic committee had offered to keep as many cattle as Mehsana could send. But Vyas was not aware of the offer as she could not attend the meeting.

The executive engineer (R & B, PWD) is rarely available in his office and it is also reliably learnt that he seldom attends the meetings of the traffic committee. Most of the traffic problems could be solved if proper road engineering is taken care of by the PWD and the pot-holed roads under it are repaired.

Illegal constructions particularly on the highway, encroachments by the auto garages and other businessmen, unauthorised parking of heavy vehicles on both sides were the problems which no authority seems to handle willingly. The DSP said that the pressure on the highway would be reduced only after the bypass is constructed. The proposal for this, he said, had been sanctioned.

MSU gears up for NAAC visit, expects a five-star rating Sunday, January 7, 2001

VADODARA: It's a corporate exercise and M S University has geared up to raise its brand equity. On Sunday when UGC's national assessment and accreditation committee (NAAC) team visits MSU campus the varsity fraternity here will turn into a corporate community.

That community will be out on a mission for three days to ensure that when NAAC returns to New Delhi they go back with a vibrant image of MSU. After all its not window curtains in varsity premises that are to be rated it is the MSU education value chain that is to be evaluated. Brand is at stake and the race is for the stars.

"We are expecting a five-star rating", MSU vice-chancellor Anil Kane told media persons on Friday. He said the MSU committee formed for NAAC visit had worked laboriously to prepare the self-assessment report that will be submitted to the to the NAAC.

"The report runs into over 5,000 pages. It's exhaustive and captures the essence of MSU, its academic domain and administration", he said. The report has been prepared by a team of varsity teachers and officials comprising Mayank Dholakia, Debal Dasgupta, Jung Bahadur Rajput, B V Kamath and P D Desai.

Once rated, the NAAC will put the assessment report on the internet. It will also mention brief profiles of MSU departments. Over 100 departments in 13 faculties and three institutes will be screened for their academic and administrative excellence.

"The five-star rating will define the standard and quality of academics. It will symbolise excellence of a university. Similar pattern of rating is adopted by foreign universities," professor Dholakia said. Dholakia has been a member of NAAC committee for four times.

"The students will benefit from the rating given to the varsity. A university's rating or grade will be a benchmark of quality. Something that foreign universities look for when they pick up Indian students", Dholakia said.

NAAC will judge the university on seven criteria - curricular aspect, teaching, learning and evaluation, research, consultancy and extension, physical infrastructure and learning resources, student support and progress, organisation and management and healthy practices. The NAAC rating will be valid for five years.

The MSU has also prepared a detailed programme of the three day NAAC itinerary. A special syndicate meeting was convened on Friday to ensure that the university presents itself as one unit. At present a section of teachers and unions like Baroda University Staff Association and Baroda University Teachers Association are feeling left out.

However, in post-syndicate meetings the conflicts were resolved to a great extend. "We aired our views on this issue. The vice-chancellor has assured us that those who were left out will also be included. He has assured that senate members from respective departments will be present and meet NAAC team during the scheduled visit," syndicate member Nilesh Shukla said.

After the meeting, Kane also appreciated and acknowledged that MSU's image and its expectation of getting a five-star rating was not based only on the exhaustive self-assessment report prepared by a few individuals, but on the contribution of each member of the MSU family, past and present.

Residents here have invested in bore-wells Sunday, January 7, 2001

VADODARA: Warasia residents in order to avoid the internal conflicts arising due to water crises have now invested in a bore-well. They say it has somewhat helped solve the problem of water scarcity. According to the residents in SK Colony and Rupal Society in Warasia, the water they store from the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) pipeline is not enough to last even eight hours.

"Every day there were fights taking place at my home due to water scarcity. My wife used to get angry if children wasted water, while my mother was always complaining," says Sandeep Goplani (name changed) of SK Colony. He admits that many joint families in the society have invested in a bore-well, so that it helps reduce tension at home.

In these societies water comes for 30 minutes in the afternoon. Within 25 minutes they have to store water for drinking and cooking, wash clothes and rinse utensils. "As water was not enough, we stopped washing clothes with soap. But then there were days when there was not enough water to even rinse the clothes," says Bhavika Tahilyani of SK Colony.

The condition of those residing in Rupal Society is no better. "Though we get water for 30 minutes, it's not enough to last the day as the pressure of water is low. But the problem is not as acute as that faced by the SK Colony residents," says Seema Tulsiani of Rupal Society.

Seema says they get water around 4 pm. By following morning, the tank is empty. "There are days when I was forced to borrow water from my neighbour's house to cook. Ultimately, tired of the problems arising due to water scarcity, we were forced to invest nearly Rs 15,000 in a bore-well," says Seema.

But not everyone here is as lucky as Tulsiani. "My husband has refused to invest in a bore-well, as he feels that it would only lead to increase in electricity bills," says Tamanana Ahuja.

(The Times of India is visiting societies in the city every day to identify problems faced by residents due to water scarcity)

CM effects 'temporary' reshuffle Thursday, January 4, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: In what has been described as "a temporary arrangement", Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel has handed over the major irrigation projects portfolio to senior Cabinet minister Nitin Patel, in-charge of minor and medium irrigation.

Keshubhai will continue to hold the important portfolio of Narmada and Kalpasar projects. The health and family welfare portfolio has been handed over to No 2 in the Cabinet, industries minister Suresh Mehta.

Minister of state for fisheries Babubhai Bokharia will hold additional charge of food and civil supplies. Cattle-breeding and management of temples and 'dharmashalas' has been handed over to minister of state for home Haren Pandya.

Soon after announcing the new portfolios on Wednesday evening, the CM left for Delhi to attend the BJP's two-day national executive meeting.

Earlier, the CM had remarked, "A decision on the Cabinet reshuffle would be taken after the Bharat Barot Committee report on reasons for BJP's debacle in the recent local polls is internally discussed. Nothing will be done before that." He had added, "Though it is the CM's prerogative to expand or reshuffle the Cabinet, I will take into consideration the party's view."

Senior Cabinet ministers interpreted the allotment of portfolios on Wednesday as a clear indication of the CM's unwillingness to go in for a full-scale expansion immediately before the superstitious evil days, kamurta, end on January 15.

On condition of anonymity, a senior minister said, "I do not think there will be any expansion till the assembly session ends in March. He will not want to invite political trouble during the assembly session that begins mid-February."

The minister said, "The CM knows that the January 10 High Court hearing on the Ashok Bhatt case will not close the matter."

Bhatt, who is among the top BJP leaders, is a key political strategists and a loyalist to the CM. Health and family welfare, and food and civil supplies, which have been handed over to Mehta and Bokharia respectively, were with Bhatt before his resignation.

Nitin Patel, who has been given Narmada, is a known opponent of Jaynarayan Vyas.

This site is dedicated to our friend Younus M, who passed away on 28th Sept 00, and left on us an indelible memories !
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