Ricoh to endow research centre at IIT, Gandhinagar

Japanese office imaging equipment manufacturer Ricoh has announced a financial endowment and industry partnership for the creation of a Design and Innovation Centre (DIC) at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Gandhinagar.

A press release from the company said the partnership is planned for three years starting April 1, 2013. 
As part of the agreement, Ricoh will take part in joint research projects at the centre. This cooperative effort will further the company's aims of promoting Open Innovation, accelerating research and development using global resources, and studying market needs in India and similar markets. 
"The technologies and services deployed in the Indian market can form the groundwork for solutions in other large emerging regions including Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, which together constitute a market of over 2.5 billion people," it said.
"We are thrilled to promote Open Innovation in India by locally researching solutions relevant to specific markets," Mr Terumoto Nonaka, Corporate Senior Vice President at Ricoh in charge of R&D, said.
"Becoming the founding industrial partner for the new Design and Innovation Centre is a major step toward achieving this goal," he said.
"This partnership with Ricoh will enable the students and faculty of IITGN to work with the colleagues from Ricoh in an inter-disciplinary and an inter-cultural environment, which is most conducive for design and innovation. We are excited with the opportunity and expect that our relationship with Ricoh will grow in time as both sides start to see the tremendous value of such a partnership. Moreover, we believe that this is an interesting model of collaboration between an academic institute and a large company, which may later be emulated elsewhere." added Prof. Sudhir K. Jain, Director of IITGN.
The newly established DIC will have both educational and research functions. Full-time and part-time faculty, full-time technical staff, and students will conduct research in a collaborative environment. 
Research projects under consideration by Ricoh include IT applications and workflow in an Indian business environment; User interfaces for business devices; Design preferences in India and similar markets; and Innovative new applications for Ricoh products in emerging markets
In addition, three representatives from the Ricoh Group will be invited to join the centre's advisory committee. The committee will consist of academics from various disciplines who will review progress and the direction of research.

Modi allocates portfolios to Ministers, retains Home, Industries


Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today allocated portfolios to his Council of Ministers, retaining the key portfolios of Home, Industries and Information & Broadcasting with himself and entrusting Finance to Mr Nitin Patel.

The other portfolios that Mr Modi will handle himself are General Administration, Administrative Reforms & Training, Climate Change, Ports, Narmada, Kalpsar, Science & Technology, All Policy Matters and Ministries not allotted to other Ministers.
Apart from Finance, Mr Patel will also look after Health, Medical Education, Family Welfare and Transport.
Ms Anandiben Patel has been allocated Revenue, Drought Relief, Land Reforms, Rehabilitation & Reconstruction, Roads & Buildings, Capital Project, Urban Development and Urban Housing.
The following are the portfolios of the other Ministers:
Mr. Ramanlal Vora: Social Justice and Empowerment (including Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Socially and Educationally Backward Classes), Sports and Games, Youth & Cultural Activity.
Mr. Bhupendrasinh Chudasma: Education (Primary, Secondary and Adult), Higher & Technical Education, Law and Judiciary, Food & Civil Supplies, Consumers Affairs, Panchayat, Rural Housing and Rural Development
Mr. Saurabh Patel: Energy and Petrochemicals, Mines and Minerals, Cottage Industries, Salt Industries, Printing, Stationary, Planning, Tourism, Civil Aviation, Labour and Employment.
Mr. Ganpat Vasava: Forest & Environment, Tribal Welfare, Women and Children’s Welfare, Law & Parliamentary Affairs
Mr. Babubhai B. Bokhiria: Water Resources (except Kalpsar), Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Cow Protection.
Ministers of State 
Mr. Purushottam O. Solanki: Labour & Employment
Mr. Parbat S. Patel: Health & Family Welfare, Transport
Ms. Vasuben Narendra Trivedi: Education, Women & Children’s Welfare
Mr. Pradeepsinh B. Jadeja: Law, Judiciary, Legislative & Parliamentary, Tourism, Religious & Pilgrims Places, Coordination of NGOs, Non-Resident Gujaratis, and Protocol.
Mr.Liladhar Khodaji Vaghela: Animal Husbandry, Fishery, Cow Protection, Welfare of Socially & Educationally Backward Classes
Mr. Rajnikant Somabhai Patel: Home, Police Housing, Border Security, Civil Defence, Home Guards, Gram Rakshak Dal, Jail, Prohibition & Excise.
Mr. Govind Patel: Agriculture, Food & Civil Supplies, Consumers Affairs, Forest & Environment
Mr. Nanubhai B. Vanani: Water Supply, Water Resources (except Kalpsar)
Mr. Jayanti R. Kavadia: Panchayat, Rural Housing & Rural Development 
Mr Modi and his colleagues had been administered the oath of office and secrecy on December 26. For Mr Modi, it is his fourth time as the Chief Minister, after leading the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a handsome victory in the recent elections to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly. The party won 115 seats in the 182-member House, while the Congress had to remain content with 61.

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Modi seeks blessings of his mother, meets Keshubhai Patel after victory

Modi seeks his mother's and Keshubhai's blessings

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi went to seek the blessings of his mother after the results of the elections to the state legislative assembly were declared today.

"Going to meet my Mother to seek her blessings on this memorable day," Mr Modi said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Mr Modi also drove down to his predecessor Keshubhai Patel's residence in Gandhinagar after he led the BJP to a resounding win in the elections.
Mr Patel had left the BJP in a huff in August this year, in protest against Mr Modi's style of functioning, and launched the Gujarat Parivartan Party, which managed to win just three seats in the elections.
Mr Patel congratulated Mr Modi and the two leaders offered sweets to each other,

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Congress wins Udupi-Chikmagalur LS seat in Karnataka, Mansa assemby seat in Gujarat


The Congress had some reasons to cheer with its candidates wresting the Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha and the Mansa assembly seat in Gujasat from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the March 17 bye-elections in which votes were counted today.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) won the Piravom Assembly seat, with its candidate Anoop Jacob of the Kerala Congress (Jacob) defeating the Left Democratic Front (LDF) nominee M J Jacob, put up by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), by a margin of 12070 votes.
In all, bye-elections were held to one Lok Sabha and 10 Assembly seats in four states.
In Andhra Pradesh, the Congress suffered a rout, losing in all seven seats. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS)  Rwon four seats and the YSR Congress and BJP one each, while an independent bagged one seat.
TRS candidates Jogu Ramanna, Gampa Govardhan, Jupally Krishna Rao and Rajaiah Thatikonda won from Adilabad, Kamareddy Kollapur and Ghanpur constituencies, while its ally BJP's nominee Yennam Srinivas Reddy won from Mahabubnagar. Independent Janardhan Reddy nagam won from Nagarkurnool while Nallapareddy Prasannakumar Reddy of YSR Congress won from Kovur.
In Tamil Nadu, S Muthuselvi of the AIADMK won from Sankarankovil while Ranendra Pratap Swain of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) won from Athgarh in Odisha.
The defeat in Karnataka was particularly humiliating for the BJP, because the seat was earlier held by Chief Minister D Sadanand Gowda, who had resigned from the Lok Sabha after assuming office.
The Congress candidate K Jayaprakash Hegde won by a margin of 45, 724 votes, polling 398,723 votes against 3,52,999 got by his rival Sunill Kumar of the BJP.
This is the second defeat for the ruling BJP in Karnataka, after it had lost the Bellary assembly seat to a party rebel in a bye-election in November.
The Congress win in Gujarat has come at a time when the party is preparing for the Assembly elections due early next year. The party's Babusinhji Mohansinhji Thakore defeated by the BJP's D D Patel by a margin of 8182 votes in the Mansa constituency in Gandhinagar district.
With today's win in Udupi-Chikmagalur, the Congress' strength in the Lok Sabha has gone up to 207.

Gujarat govt. proposes Metro rail between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar


The Gujarat Government has forwarded to the Centre the detailed project report for the proposed Metro rail link between Ahmedabad and state capital Gandhinagar for Central assistance to the extent of at least 25 per cent of the total cost of the project.

Minister of State for Urban Development Saugata Roy informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply to a question yesterday taht the report had been prepared by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRC).
Roy said a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), Metro-link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) Company Limited, fully owned by the Government of Gujarat, has been incorporated under the Companies Act,1956 with authorised share capital of Rs. 200 crore. 
No time limit has been fixed for the project, he added.

Gujarat Governor, CM condole former Speaker's death

Gujarat Governor Kamala Beniwal and Chief Minister Narendra Modi lauded the services of former Speaker of the state Legislative Assembly Mangaldas Patel. who died  early today.
In her message, the Governor said in Prof Patel's death Gujarat
had lost a veteran social worker and a seasoned politician.
Chief Minister Narendra Modi visited the deceased’s residence at Parbatpura village near Mansa to offer his last respects.  
Praising late Patel’s contribution in public life. especially for Panchayati Raj and parliamentary activities, Mr Modi, in his condolence message, said Prof Patel's work as the sarpanch of a
village was commendable. As the Speaker of the Assembly, he preserved
and enhanced the parliamentary values of Gujarat, he said.  
With his death, Gujarat has lost a hard working servant of Panchayati Raj. The party has also lost a sincere worker, said the Chief Minister. 

Gujarat Governor asks Modi for account of expenditure on fast


Gujarat Governor Kamala Beniwal has reportedly sought from Chief Minister Narendra Modi details of the expenditure incurred on his three-day "Sadbhavana Mission" fast in Ahmedabad last week.

Gujarat Governor appoints Justice R A Mehta as Lokayukta


Amid the countrywide clamour for appointing a Lokpal to check corruption, Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal has appointed retired High Court Judge R A Mehta as the new Lokayukta - a post that was lying vacant for over seven years.

A notification to this effect was issued by the Governor last night.

This was conveyed by the Governor herself when a Congress delegation called on her today with the demand for appointing the Lokayukta, amid reports that Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is in power since 2001, was stalling the process.

Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Arjun Modhvadia, who led the delegation, told UNI that the Governor appointed the former acting chief justice of Gujarat High Court R A Mehta as Lokayukta in consultation with the Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court S J Mukhopadhyaya and Leader of Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil under section 3 of Gujarat Lokayukta Act.

Customarily, Mr Modhvadia said, the Governor selects a name and sends it to the state government which in turn makes a proposal in this regard. Despite the Governor writing twice to the state government in this connection, the latter failed to come up with a proper response. Hence, the Governor exercised her power and issued the notification.

The post of Lokayukta had remained vacant in Gujarat since November 24, 2003, when Justice S M Soni retired.

Justice D H Shukla was appointed the first Lokayukta of the state on July 26, 1988. After completion of his five year term, Justice I C Bhatt succeeded him. Justice Soni was the third ombudsman.

The state, of late, witnessed a few developments in the appointment of the Lokayukta with Gujarat High Court issuing a notice to the Narendra Modi government seeking an explanation for the delay. The issue will come up again on August 29.

The state government appointed a five-member ministerial group early this week to review the Gujarat Lokayukta Act in view of the agitation led by Gandhian Anna Hazare on the Lokpal bill.

In another development, the state government appointed a commission headed by former Supreme Court Judge M B Shah to probe 15 charges against Mr Modi and others levelled by the Congress in a memorandum submitted to President Pratibha Patil.


Man accused of 1992 murder of Indian family in Dubai sentenced to death

A CBI court in Ahmedabad has convicted Ravjibhai Manubhai Pawar of the murder of his Indian employer and four other members of his family in Dubai in 1992 and sentenced him to death.

A press release from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said that its investigations had shown that Pawar, while working as a domestic servant in Dubai, had kileld Mr Ramesh K Sagar and four others of Mr Sagar's family on January 4, 1992.

He was also accused of rape and of stealing household articles, including clothes, ornaments and cash.

Pawar feld from Dubai on January 5 and came to India. On the basis of an Interpol alert, he was nabbed on January 10 by the Gujarat police and a first information report (FIR)was registered.

Since the accused was an Indian national and the offence took place outside India, the case was entrusted to the CBI. The Dubai Police had also registered an FIR and collected evidence, which was used by the CBI during investigation and trial of the case, the release said.

The chargesheet was filed on January 23, 1992 in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Chikhli. The trial court found him guilty and convicted him.

The case was registered by the CBI, Ahmedabad (now Gandhinagar) Branch on April 27, 1992 on the basis of the request and consent of the Government of Gujarat for futher investigation of the case filed at the Chikhli Police Station, the release added.


Modi writes to PM, calls for lifting of ban on export of cotton

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calling for an immediate lifting of the ban on exports of cotton so that farmers in his state could be saved from financial losses.

He also demanded an export quota of 10 lakh bales of cotton for the state as a special case.

Mr Modi said in his letter that the ban on exports of cotton would adversely affect the cotton-producing farmers and rural economy of Gujarat, which is largely dependent on agriculture.

He pointed out that Gujarat produces one-third of the cotton in the country and half of it is exported. He said cotton from Gujarat was well-known in international markets for its superior quality.

Mr Modi said cotton is cultivated in about 24.64 lakh hectares of land in the state and production was around 104.55 lakh bales this year as compared to 74 lakh bales last year. He said the ban on exports would financially ruin the farmers of Gujarat.

The Chief Minister said the ban was an anti-farmer measure and a move to demoralise the cotton-growing farmers of Gujarat. He said that, in 2010, the Union Finance Ministry had slapped an export duty of Rs 2500 per tonne on cotton.

Mr Modi said cotton prices were moving upwards in the international markets and decreasing continuously in the local markets. He said farmers could not store cotton and were now compelled to sell their crops at low prices. He said prices of various varieties of cotton had decreased by upto 50 per cent in the current season.

"The ban has caused disappointment among the cotton producing farmers as they are suffering financial loss and so the Centre should immediately allow the State an export quota of 10 lakh bales of cotton," Mr Modi added.


Mahendra Singh Rana elected Mayor of Gandhinagar in Gujarat

Congress leader Mahendra Singh Rana has been elected the first Mayor of Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation, covering the capital of Gujarat.

In the elections of office-bearers held today, Yousuf Parmar was elected as the Deputy Mayor, while Pravin Patel was elected as Standing Committee Chairman, Congress sources said.

Congress captured power in the recent civic body elections bagging 18 seats, while the BJP got 15 seats. The Municipal Corporation was formed last year on the directive of Gujarat High Court. Till then, a government administered body was looking after the civic affairs in the state capital.

Amid rumours of attempt by the ruling BJP to capture power by ensuring defection of few corporators to BJP, the Congress corporators were taken for a joyride to Jaipur and Delhi to avert their poaching, before bringing them back for today's election.


SIT questions former Minister Jadeja in Gujarat riots case

The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) today questioned former Gujarat Minister and BJP leader I K Jadeja for his alleged role in the 2002 riots.

The SIT had earlier questioned Mr Jadeja in November 2009.

Mr Jadeja, who was summoned by the SIT, appeared before it this morning. Sources at SIT said the questioning lasted for about two hours. It was not immediately known why he was summoned again by the agency.

The questioning of Mr Jadeja assumes significance in view of the fact that the SIT recorded a statement of DIG Sanjeev Bhatt few days ago in the wake of Supreme Court observation on the investiation report that the inferences drawn by SIT chief R K Raghavan did not match the findings of the team in the probe against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 others in a case related to the 2002 Gujarat riots that officially left 1,180 people dead.

The Supreme Court had asked the SIT to examine the observations of the amicus curiae and considered conducting a further probe into the complaint by Zakia, wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jaffrey, who was murdered in a riot at Ahmedabad's Gulbarg Society on February 28, 2002. As many as 69 others died in the riot at Gulbarg Society.

Zakia has filed a 100-page complaint against Mr Modi and 62 others, including his Cabinet colleagues, accusing them of conspiracy in the riot at Gulbarg Society.

Retired IPS officer R Sreekumar had alleged that two Ministers in the Modi Cabinet, late Ashok Bhatt and I K Jadeja, were present in the Ahmedabad and Gandinagar control rooms of the police during the riots. They were accused of being in contact with the BJP and VHP leaders elsewhere.


Ruling BJP MLA evicted from Gujarat Assembly

Dr Kanubhai Kalsaria, an MLA of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from Mahuva, was today evicted from Gujarat Legislative Assembly by marshals after he rushed to the well of the House to raise an issue.

Dr Kalsaria, who is spearheading a farmers' agitation against Nirma company's cement plant at Mahuva in Bhavnagar district, led a 350-km protest march of some 10,000 farmers to the state capital from Mahuva.

Dr Kalsaria today tried to raise the issue of farmers' opposition to the cement plant in the House but Speaker Ganpat Vasava did not give him permission to do so. Meanwhile, Opposition Congress members lent their support to him. When the Speaker refused to give him permission to raise the issue, Dr Kalsaria rushed to the well of the house.

The Speaker ordered the marshals to evict Dr Kalsaria from the House. Later, the MLA was suspended from the day's proceedings.

Later, talking to mediapersons, Dr Kalsaria said he wanted to apprise the House of the plight of the farmers who had walked all the way from Mahuva and who were detained here when they tried to march to the Assembly.

He said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's government was not pro-farmer as it claimed to be but pro-industry. He said, "The Modi government is more repressive than the erstwhile British government in India."


Rs 573.69 crore surplus budget for Gujarat

Additional taxes to mop up Rs 524 crore were proposed in the Rs 573.69 crore surplus budget for 2011-12 presented by Finance Minister Vajubhai Vala in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly today.

While unmanufactured tobacco continued to remain exempted, value added tax on tobacco has been proposed to be increased from 20 to 25 per cent, while VAT on mobile phones will be raised to 15 per cent from five per cent, Mr Vala said while presenting the annual budget for the record 17th time.

In order to encourage clean energy, he proposed to levy green cess at the rate of two paise per unit on generation of all kinds of electrical energy, including captive energy, but excluding solar energy, wind energy, bio energy, geo thermal energy, tidal energy and hydel energy. The state government will set up Green Energy Fund for protection of environment, he said.

Taking forward the government's commitment for decentralisation of administration, the government will launch a scheme "Aapno Taluko Vibrant Taluko" by planning to develop infrastructure worth Rs 2700 crore in next four years. The allocation under the scheme for 2011-12 is Rs 600 crore. The number of Prant Offices will be doubled from the present level of 55, Mr Vala said.

Allocation for the Sardar Sarovar Project on the Narmada river has been doubled from Rs 3500 crore to Rs 7010 crore to give a thrust to irrigation sector. As a homage to the maker of modern India, the government proposes to erect the tallest statue in the world of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, called the "Statue of Unity" at Sadhu Bet near Sardar Sarovar Dam.

"Rather than developing one sector at the cost of the other, our principle has been holistic development at a steady pace," Mr Vala said.

Salient features of the budget include:

* Creation of a new cadre of Principals to improve administration in primary schools and to ensure that quality of education is not affected.

* A provision of Rs 185 crore to develop medical colleges at Patan, Sola (Ahmedabad), Gotri (Vadodara) and Valsad.

* Planning for creation of Indian Institute of Information Technology.

* A provision of Rs 50 crore for the share capital of the Metro Link Express company for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad, which has been established for constructing metro railway line joining Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar.

*Roll-On-Roll-Off (ferry service) from Ghogha to Dahej at a cost of Rs 296 crore.

* To develop tourism, Gujarat Tourism Develop Corporation will be started. An equity fund of Rs 100 crore will be raised. Investment of Rs 50,000 crore estimated for tourism development.

* Provision of Rs 10 crore to establish Sports University.

* Provision of Rs 100 crore for Climate Change department and a provision of Rs 25 crore for making Gandhinagar a solar city.

Mr Vala said though it was expected that there would be deficit of Rs 558.44 crore in 2010-11, revised estimates indicated a surplus of Rs 1598.13 crore.

He said estimates for 2011-12 showed a surplus of Rs 49.69 crore. Revenue receipts were estimated at Rs 59,885.75 crore and revenue expenditure at Rs 59,442.31 crore. Capital receipts were estimated at Rs 21394.23 crore and capital expenditure including loans and advances at Rs 19,794.98 crore.

During 2011-12, the size of the annual plan has been fixed at Rs 37,152.68 crore, indicating an increase of 23.80 per cent over the previous year that stood at Rs 30,000 crore. This is the last year of the 11th five year plan. During this five year plan, Gujarat will exceed the target and reach the level of Rs 1,27,652.68 crore, Mr Vala added.


Tribal leader Vasava elected Gujarat Assembly Speaker

Ganapatbhai Vestabhai Vasava
Ganapatbhai Vestabhai Vasava

Prominent tribal leader and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Ganpat Vasava was today unanimously elected as the 16th Speaker of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly.

Mr Vasava, 40, twice-elected as a member of the Assembly from the Mangrol constituency in Surat district, succeeds Mr Ashok Bhatt, who died in September last year.

Since then, Prof Mangaldas Patel was functioning as the acting Speaker.

Immediately after the Governor's address to the House on the opening day of the 35-day Budget session, Chief Minister Narendra Modi moved the resolution proposing the candidature of Mr Vasava as Speaker. It was seconded by Leader of Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil, paving the way for his unanimous election.

After his election, Mr Vasava assumed the chair. Mr Modi and others congratulated him on assuming the high office.

While extending Congress' support to Mr Vasava's candidature, Mr Gohil demanded that the ruling party should allot the post of Deputy Speaker to the Opposition in keeping with traditions.

Mr Vasava is the first tribal leader to be elected as the Speaker of the State Assembly.

Born at Vadigam in Umarpada taluka of Surat district on June 1, 1971, Mr. Vasava, who has an M.A. degree, has served as the chairman of the House Committee on Tribal Welfare, and as member of the Business Advisory Committee, Privilege Committee and the Committees for Forests & Environment and Housing.

He was also a director of Gujarat State Forest Development Corporation, besides holding key posts in a number of village, taluka, district and state-level organizations.


Ganpat Vasava set to become Gujarat Assembly Speaker

The decks have been cleared for the unanimous election of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Ganpat Vasava as the Speaker of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly tomorrow with the opposition Congress also supporting his candidature.

Mr Vasava, a two-time MLA from Mangrol in Surat district, today filed his nomination for the post of Speaker, which fell vacant due to the death of Ashok Bhatt. Prof Mangaldas Patel is the Acting Speaker.

Since no other candidate has filed nomination and with the main opposition Congress deciding to support his candidature, Mr Vasava (40) will be formally declared elected unopposed when the election of the new Speaker is taken up by the House tomorrow on the opening day of the Budget Session.

Meanwhile, extending its support to Mr Vasava's candidature, The Congress said the ruling party must allot to it the post of Deputy Speaker in keeping with the traditions.

Leader of Opposition in Assembly Shaktisinh Gohil expressed the hope that the new Speaker would conduct the proceedings of the House in an impartial manner.


2 killed, 10 injured as bus turns turtle in Gujarat

Two people were killed and ten others injured when a State Transport bus overturned near Infocity on the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar highway today.

According to fire brigade officials, the accident took place at around 1100 hours when the bus, going to Mansa from Ahmedabad, overturned near Infocity.

The driver appeared to have lost control over the vehicle either while negotiating a curve or overtaking some other vehicle, they said.

Fire brigade teams of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar were dispatched immediately after the accident. Two multi-function cranes and an emergency fire tender were rushed from Ahmedabad.

Relief and rescue work is still in progress, rescue officials said. The injured have been admitted to the Civil Hospital in Gandhinagar, the oficials added.


Narendra Modi inducts six new Ministers of State

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today expanded his Council of Ministers by inducting six new Ministers of State.

This was the second expansion of the Council of Ministers in five months and the third since Mr Modi took charge after the December 2007 Assembly elections.

With the addition of the six new Ministers, the strength of the Council of Ministers has gone up to 27.

The new entrants were administered oaths of office and secrecy by Governor Kamla Beniwal at a ceremony at Raj Bhavan here this morning.

The new Ministers are Jitendra Sukhadia, MLA from Vadodara, Ranjit Gilitwala, from Surat, Mohan Kundariya from Tankara, Ishwar Patel from Ankleswar, Jaidrathsinh Parmar from Halol and Liladhar Vaghela from Diyodar.

Two Ministers of State had resigned following the registration of police cases against them.

Minister of State for Women's Welfare Mayaben Kodnani resigned in 2009 following her arrest in connection with the 2002 communal massacre in Naroda Gam, while Minister of State for Home Amit Shah resigned after his arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with the Sohrabuddin Sheikh-Kausar Bi murder case in July last year.

Mr Modi will allocate the portfolios to the new ministers later in the day.


Congress releases documents to support phone-tapping charge against Modi

Leader of the Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly Shaktisinh Gohil yesterday released a copy of the register of a senior police officer in support of his charge that Chief Minister Narendra Modi had got telephones of politicians tappped.

The state government had challenged Mr Gohil to establish the charges that he had first made a few days ago.

Mr Gohil released to the media a copy of the register maintained by Inspector General of Police (Security) and Additional Director General of Police which, he said, was a strong and reliable evidence that the Chief Minister had got telephones tapped illegally.

"The register clearly shows that, on June 7, 2002, police officers were asked to find out whether Haren Pandya, slain home minister of the state, had met retired Supreme Court Justice V R Krishna Iyer or not? Whether any Minister met private Inquiry Commission? On the same day, police were asked to provide details of the phone of Mr Pandya's friend as Mr Pandya had used his friend’s phone. On June 22, 2002, the IGP had provided details of Mr Pandya's friend. This is noted in the register of the Intelligence Branch (IB). What else can be a stronger evidence of telephone tapping?" he asked.

Mr Gohil said, "The same register has an entry on April 16, 2002, to tap the phone of Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela, who was Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief at that time. It also has entries about instructions for tapping phones of other Congress leaders and NGOs. This register gives reliable evidence of how Mr Modi used the IB to finish Haren Pandya politically."

He said the Chief Minister had engaged the Crime Department and an officer in the task of illegal tapping of phones. The Gujarat government had provided phones of private companies instead of BSNL only for the purpose of illegal tapping. Gujarat Ministers and senior officers know this tapping business and so they use their personal phones instead of government phones. They keep on changing phones to avoid tapping. To be able to go for illegal tapping, the Chief Minister had got private companies’ phones, even as BSNL had offered the lowest rates, he said.

"The government spokesperson is not aware of a simple fact that Gujarat government can order telephone tapping in case of criminal activity. It does not require the permission of the Central Government. Instead of using the power to check criminal activities, Mr Modi used phone tapping illegally," he said.

Mr Gohil said a senior officer of the state government has said on affidavit that the Chief Minister had got the phone of Mr Pandya tapped. The affidavit clearly states that the Chief Minister had issued instruction for phone tapping. It is a well established legal norm that if an allegation is made against someone on affidavit, he should give rejoinder, otherwise it is considered that the other person has accepted the fact, he said.

According to him, the Chief Minister has not filed any rejoinder before the Commission, which makes it clear that he has accepted the fact.


7,936 MoUs worth Rs 20.83 lakh crore signed at Gujarat summit

A total of 7,936 memoranda of understanding (MoUs committing investment of Rs 20.83 lakh crore were signed during the fifth edition of Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit 2011 that concluded today.

"The business commitment, amounting to $ 450 billion, is expected to generate employment for 52 lakh people," Chief Minister Narendra Modi said at the conclusion of the two-day event.

In the previous 2009 summit, investment commitment to the tune of Rs 12 lakh crore were made through 8,668 MoUs.


5th "Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2011" kicks off

The "Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2011", which is aimed at attracting investments to the State, kicked off here today, with the participation of delegates and companies from as many as 80 countries.

Nearly 20,000 people, including 700 foreign delegates, comprising corporate honchos, policy-makers, business and political delegations, are taking part in the two-day event.

Inaugurating the summit, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said the summit serves as an ideal platform to discuss and deliberate business opportunities in the new age world.

Mr Modi said the event, held biennially since 2003, has been a major success. It has attracted investment proposals of over $ 370 billion till now.

It is expected that many state governments would sign memoranda of understandings (MoUs) with global firms this time. The previous four editions of the event were meant to attract investment for Gujarat only.

"With Vibrant Gujarat 2011, we want investment to go to every Indian state," Mr Modi said.

Japan and Canada are partner countries for this year's edition of the business summit which is organised by the State government.

This time, delegates from Canada comprise the biggest single group of more than 100 people at the event, while Japan has sent a large delegation of around 70 people.

Among those participating in the mega event are delegations from the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Singapore and some European countries.

It is expected that around 6,000 MoUs will be signed across sectors during the investors summit.

In last summit in 2009, Gujarat had received investment commitments of up to $ 240 billion and 47-odd countries participated in it.


All set for "Vibrant Gujarat" business summit from Wednesday

Amid tight security arrangements, the fifth edition of Vibrant Gujarat Summit, billed as the biggest investment meet in the country, begins tomorrow at the newly-built Mahatma Mandir, a memorial for the father of the nation.

Japan and Canada are partner countries for the biennial event, a brainchild of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, held since 2003 and aimed at making Gujarat a global business hub.

This year, the two-day summit, to be inaugurated by Mr Modi, coincides with the golden jubilee celebrations of Gujarat attaining statehood.

With Davos in mind, Mr Modi has attempted to reposition the summit as a business hub to attract investments for the entire country with business meets and seminars arranged for states like Karnataka, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and the North- Eastern states.

Representatives from Japan, Canada, Australia, Mozambique and Rwanda will also be attending the event.

In the earlier summits, the state government focused on attracting investments for Gujarat only. This time, Mr Modi seems to have redefined his role vis-a-vis national politics by providing a platform for other states to strike a business deal with any global company here.

More than 5,000 delegates including 700 from some 60 countries are expected to take part in the summit. As many as 300 exhibitors from 20 countries and various states of India are displaying their wares at an exhibition at the summit site.

More than 200 business meetings will be held in two days, besides a series of seminars and discussions on Oil, Gas and Power, Engineering and Auto, Special Investment Regions, SEZs, Industrial Parks and Logistic Parks, Financial Services, Urban Development, Ports, Shipbuilding and related activities, Water and Rural Development.

Major focus areas include Textiles, Pharmaceuticals, Tourism, Agro and Food Processing, Healthcare, Mineral-based industries, Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Information Technology, Biotechnolgy and Gems and Jewellery.

Healthcare and education seems to be attracting a lot of interest from the academic institutions from across the world.

The 2009 summit attracted investments to the tune of Rs 12 lakh crore with the signing of over 8,600 MoUs.

Meanwhile, unprecedented security arrangements with the deployment of 3,000 personnel have been made at the summit venue and in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar following terror alerts by the Central intelligence agencies. With the sounding of high alert, intensified patrolling and vehicle checking at all strategic points are in place.

Closed circuit televisions, bomb squads, dog squads and other such measures are already in place. All entry points of the state capital, where the summit venue is located, are being manned by a posse of security forces.


Nirma University of Science & Technology, Ahmedabad

Established in April, 2003, offers B.Tech., M. Tech. and Ph.D. programmes in Chemical, Civil, Computer, Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics and Communication Engineering at its Institute of Technology.

Institute for Plasma Research, Gandhinagar

An autonomous Physics research institute, involves in research in various aspects of plasma science, including basic plasma physics, research on magnetically confined hot plasmas and plasma technologies for industrial applications.

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