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February 9, 2001 - February 10, 2001

Telecom lines restored, claims BSNL Saturday, February 10, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The earthquake which struck Gujarat on January 26 had paralysed the telecom network in Bhuj district and as worried relatives tried to contact their kin frantically, all trunk routes in Gujarat got congested.

The Gujarat Telecom Circle started the work of restoring the lines on a war footing and approximately 600 officials worked round the clock to revive the lines.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) claims that circuits on various trunk routes have been augmented and trunk exchange of about 6,000 lines at Bhuj is now fully operational. As many as ten talukas, where all communication links had broken down, have now been connected and a 140 out of 147 telephone exchanges have been revived. More than 80 STD/PCOs have been opened to provide free service to people and a free fax PCO has also been provided at Mundra Road in Bhuj.

The talukas where telephone lines were restored are those of Bhuj, Lakhpat, Mandvi, Mundra, Naliya, Nakatrana and Gandhidham respectively. About 98,000 out of 1 lakh lines as well as Internet services have been restored and a help line service is being offered at the number 02832- 1092. A 198 fault repair services have already begun along with telegraph services restarting in Bhuj. Four thousand telegrams were received on Wednesday which were distributed, informed a Gujarat Telecom Circle official.

'The aeroplane came...I fell' Saturday, February 10, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Vimaan aavyun, Hun dodyo, Pathra padya, Hun padyo (The aeroplane came, I ran, stones fell, I fell) is how the January 26 quake is frozen in four-year-old Amit Chhanga's memory.

Amit was brought from Ratnal, which was reported as one of the villages close to the epicentre of the earthquake, to be treated here.

His cherubic face betrays no fear, just pain once in a while. Lying in the lap of his grandmother at the hospital run by the Kutchi Jain Seva Samaj, Amit is the darling of the entire 21-bed hospital looking after patients from the ravaged areas of Kutch.

The boy just heard a loud sound and thinking it was an aeroplane, he dashed out before his father could warn him and stumbled on the doorway which came crashing down. He was buried under the rubble. "I went out to see a plane..." his eyes brighten up till you ask, "Then what happened?" and he becomes quiet as his grandmother completes the rest of the story.

"I could spot only the back of his head and got a glimpse of his tee-shirt from under the rubble," says his father Narayanbhai. Amit was the only member of his family who sustained minor injuries, the rest of them were saved.

But this little bundle of joy is not without irony. On February 2 marking his fourth birthday, the thumb and index finger of his left hand which had developed gangrene were amputated. "We also cut a cake," adds his father, grinning.

When her house in Padhar village fell, killing her only son under it, young Roshan was shattered. But lying with a fractured leg at the Kutchhi Samaj hospital, Roshan has some solace. The doctors examining her declared her two months pregnant.

A Railway employee, Gopal Morji who was visiting his in-law's place in Bhachau on the Black Friday, got stuck under the debris and fractured his leg. Yet, what is foremost on his mind is to get back home. "I have my job," he says tacitly.

Life has yet to settle down for these Kutchis who were brought by this voluntary agency to be looked after here till they are well. But all is not yet hunky dory. Halima from Anjar lost seven members of her family and has suffered nine fractures on her body, but her husband and her four kids survived. "Will you give us a house?, will you give us money?", she wants to know, eager to get back to Anjar. Close by, lies a young native of Bhachau, chanting his beads. He has lost his wife and his kids, only one son survived. But he does not want to talk about it. Face writ with fear he folds his hands as tears stream down his cheeks, "Please leave me alone..."

"Tremor or no tremor, we want to go back home," is the common refrain of these maiden visitors to this part of the state. "What do we do here in Gujarat?" asks Halima. "After all, Kutchh is our watan," asserts Narayanbhai.

Like they say in Kutchhi: "Shiyale Sorath bhalo, Unale Gujarat, Chomahe Vagad bhalo, Kutchh baare mah!" (Saurashtra is good for winters, Gujarat for in the summer, Vagad is good in monsoons but Kutchh is good throughout the year!)

Opposition leader demands President's rule in state Saturday, February 10, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Criticising the failure of the BJP-led government in handling the situation arising from the January 26 earthquake, Leader of the Opposition in state assembly Amarsinh Chaudhary has demanded that the government be dismissed and President's rule imposed in the state.

In a letter to Governor Sundar Singh Bhandari, Chaudhary alleged the BJP had tried to gain even from a situation like this. In a separate letter to President K R Narayanan, Chaudhary stated that Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel was running the government through his son, son-in-law, certain ministers and delegations of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

"There are also certain officials who in order to please the chief minister, have begun helping the Sangh Parivar in relief operations," Chaudhary alleged.

He accused the Bajrang Dal, RSS and VHP of hijacking relief material coming from outside, occupying government godowns and distributing the material as their own.

"It appears from the goings-on that the BJP wants to exploit this opportunity to resurrect its government from the dead bodies and debris of the earthquake," Chaudhary said.

Building certification to begin from Monday Saturday, February 10, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Certificates on status of quake-hit buildings in the city is likely to be issued by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority from Monday onwards.

"The certificates will be marked in green, yellow and red specifying the nature of damage. Those with no damages or with slight non-structural damages will be marked green be safe for occupation but will need seismic strengthening. While those with slight structural problems and moderate structural damage will be marked yellow with suggestions like remove plaster and grout cracks using epoxy or similar materials. Those marked yellow may also have the residents to vacate the houses.

Buildings with severe structural damage will be marked red. While some might be fit for occupation after repair work others will have to be demolished.

Inspection for about 1,100 residential complexes have been completed by 40 teams of structural, civil engineers and architects who began touring the city soon after quake struck the city.

While officials of the said that the number of teams would be increased at least by another 20. "The certification will be done by AMC and AUDA according to the recommendations of Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology. Where ever possible remedies will also be suggested in along guidelines for earthquake resistant non-engineers' construction developed by an expert group headed by Dr A S Arya, chairman of Bureau of Standard of Earthquake Engineering, Government of India.

Fresh tremors recorded in Gujarat Friday, February 9, 2001

Fresh tremors rocked parts of quake-ravaged Gujarat at 22:25 hours IST on Thursday, spreading panic through the state.

The tremors measured 5.3 on the Richter Scale, according to Indian Meteorological Department (Ahmedabad) director R K Kankane.

Panicky residents in Surat and Ahmedabad rushed out on the streets as the tremors shook buildings.

Residents said that the tremors were quite strong and several telephone lines in the state had gone dead.

There were no reports of any casualties, though a woman was hurt in the panic, police said in Ahmedabad.

Sixty five-year-old Baba Potnis, a resident of Lal Darwaja in old Ahmedabad, said, "I was sleeping when it happened. I felt that the bed shaking. It lasted only for a few seconds, but I can say that the magnitude would definitely be around 5 on the Richter Scale.''

Potnis said that all residents had come out and were scared.

''As we do not live in a high-rise building, our neighbourhood feels a little safe. I called my relatives in Satellite, Drive-in and Ambavadi, but no one answered the telephone. Even they must have felt the tremors and must be outside."

rediff.com's Surat correspondent Vikram Vakil said over the telephone that he and his family had also come out on the streets. "The streets are teeming with panicky residents. People who had barely moved into their homes after the January 26 quake and were reliving normal lives are frightened again."

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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