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Vadodara

Gujarat law to prevent transfer of properties in communally sensitive areas made stricter

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The Gujarat Assembly on Monday passed a bill on amendments to the Disturbed Areas Act with the ruling BJP introducing more stringent provisions in it against the transfer of properties in communally sensitive areas, contending that this was needed to plug loopholes in the law.
 
The bill was passed by the BJP majority in the House while the Congress MLAs opposed it, arguing that the ruling party was targeting a certain community.
 
The Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991, better known as Disturbed Areas Act, bans the sale of property by the member of one religious community to that of another without the approval of the district collector.
 
This Act is in force in places notified as communally sensitive areas in the state, including in Ahmedabad and Vadodara.
 
The amendment bill, moved by in-charge Revenue Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, provides for expanding the word "transfer" to include sale, gift, exchange, lease or taking possession of the property by way of power of attorney.
 
Chudasama insisted that there was no political motive behind this amendment bill. He said many people with "mala fide intentions" were found to be unlawfully acquiring properties in disturbed areas through power of attorney or by adding their names in the revenue records without taking consent of the collector as mandated by the Act.
 
"By adopting illegal methods, many people were found to be forcibly getting lawful residents to sell properties out of fear or pressure. We want to stop this," he said.
 
The Minister said besides ensuring that transfer of property was fair and with proper consents, the District Collector could also check if there was any "likelihood of polarisation", "disturbance in demographic equilibrium" or any "likelihood of improper clustering of persons of a community" if the transfer took place.
 
According to the amendment bill, the collector can reject the application of transfer after making assessment on these grounds and the aggrieved person can now file an appeal with the state government against the collector's order. This provision was not there in the existing Act.
 
The bill proposes imprisonment between three and five years along with a fine of Rs 1 lakh or 10 per cent of the value of the property, whichever is higher, to prevent the illegal acquisition of properties in such areas. 
 
Besides, the government could constitute a Monitoring and Advisory Committee to keep a check on the demographic structure in the disturbed areas.
 
The committee can also advise the collector about various issues regarding the implementation of the Act.
 
"The bill allows forming a special investigation team (SIT) to assist the state government in deciding any area to be notified a disturbed one. It will also assist the Monitoring and Advisory Committee in gathering necessary information," Chudasama added.
 
Congress MLAs, led by Imran Khedawala from Ahmedabad, opposed the amendment bill alleging that it aimed at targeting people from a certain religion.
 
"The Disturbed Areas Act is similar to Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir where outsiders could not buy property. On the one hand, the BJP is keen to repeal Article 370, but here it makes it more stringent. Why this double standard," Khedawala asked.
 
The Congress lawmaker went on to assert that this legislation was made out of fear that the population of one particular religious community will outgrow the others.
 
"This Act violates our constitutional right to buy property anywhere we want," he added.
 
IANS
 

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7 die while cleaning septic tank in Gujarat hotel

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As many as seven persons were asphyxiated to death in the wee hours of Saturday while cleaning the septic tank of a highway hotel in central Gujarat's Vadodara district.
 
The police said the incident occurred much after midnight at Darshan Hotel in Fartikui village of Dabhoi tehsil, some 30 km from Vadodara city. Those killed included four sanitation workers and three employees of the hotel.
 
The police told reporters that 47-year-old Mahesh Patanwadiya was the first to go inside the septic tank. Others outside got worried when he did not come out for some time despite being called by them. Ashok Harijan, 45, then entered to look for Mahesh, followed by 23-year-old Brijesh Harijan and Mahesh Harijan, 25.
 
When the four sanitation workers didn't come out, the three employees of the hotel, Vijay Chaudhary, Sahadev Vasava and Ajay Vasava, all 22 years old, went inside and reportedly fell unconscious and later died after inhaling toxic fumes. 
 
Their bodies were pulled out after three hours of effort by fire brigade staff of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation who had to go there since the Dabhoi Municipality did not have the equipment to rescue the seven people inside.
 
An offence of negligence has been registered against the owner of the hotel, Hassan Abbas Bhoraniya, who was arrested in the morning.
 
The sanitation workers hailed from the nearby Thuvavi village.
 
The state government has announced financial assistance of Rs 4 lakh each to the kin of the deceased. In an official press release, the government stated that it had asked the police to initiate tough action against the hotel owner.
 
IANS
 

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Foundation stones laid for Dwarka Expressway and Delhi-Mumbai Expressway, Jaipur Ring Road inaugurated

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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari laid the foundation stones for development of the 8-lane access controlled Dwarka Expressway and Delhi-Mumbai Expressway here yesterday. 
 
The ministers also inaugurated the Jaipur Ring Road through a video link on the occasion. 
 
Speaking on the occasion, Swaraj said the three projects are a gift for Delhi and Haryana. The Delhi-Mumbai Expressway will change the future of the Mewat region and will bring it on the industrial map of the country, she said.
 
She expressed appreciation for the proposal to plant more than two million new trees on these roads. 
 
Jaitley said the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway will link two most important freight centres of the country, boost economic activity and generate employment opportunities. He extended compliments for Gadkari’s efforts in developing the National Highway network in the country. He has successfully brought up this sector to the building of 29 km per day against a mere seven km earlier. Nearly 91% of the country’s villages are now linked with main roads, he said.
 
Gadkari said that, while developing expressways and highways, full attention is being given to minimising pollution levels. The Delhi-Meerut Expressway, Dhaula Kuan flyover and others will definitely reduce traffic congestion thereby improving the air quality in the city. 
 
The Delhi- Mumbai Expressway will also speed up the development and smart cities will develop along them, generating vast employment opportunities for the local people. Projects worth over 15 lakh crore are underway in the Ministry and these are being taken up with full transparency, in a corruption-free atmosphere. All projects are being completed within the time schedule.
 
The Delhi-Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway is conceived as a 1320-km greenfield project with an estimated cost of Rs 90,000 crore. The existing Delhi-Mumbai National Corridor (NH-8 section of the Golden Quadrilateral) is one the busiest and most critical routes of the national highways network, witnessing average traffic of more than 80,000 CPUs per day. 
 
Considering the present traffic scenario, it was decided to develop an alternative alignment connecting Delhi with Vadodara, which on linking up with the proposed Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway, would create seamless connectivity between Delhi and Mumbai and improve the efficiency of this busy National Corridor. 
 
The proposed Delhi-Vadodara-Mumbai road will result in an overall reduction of about 150 km in the present distance between Delhi and Mumbai. In addition, Delhi-Vadodara expressway would also act as an expressway to Jaipur via the already developed Jaipur-Dausa NH-11. 
 
The expressway will also reduce the distance to other important economic centres of Kota, Bhopal and Indore from Delhi (through spurs of intersecting NHs being developed under Bharatmala) by about 100 km.
 
The Delhi-Vadodara Expressway is being taken up in 5 phases at a cost of Rs 45,000 crore. Bids have been invited for all these phases and are at various stages of finalization. Work has been awarded for a part of Phase I and will be done for the remaining phases this year.
 
The 29 km Dwarka Expressway (NH-248BB) being built at a cost of Rs 9,000 crore will start from Shiv Murti to terminate near Kherki Daula on NH-8. This section of NH-8 is a part of Delhi-Jaipur-Ahmedabad-Mumbai arm of Golden Quadrilateral and Delhi-Gurgaon section is presently carrying traffic of over 3 lakhs PCUs, much beyond the designed capacity of this highway, leading to severe congestion. 
 
Keeping this in view, Dwarka Expressway has been conceived as a bypass of Gurgaon. This Expressway stretches 18.9 km in Haryana and 10.1 km in Delhi. It is also proposed to provide western connectivity to Indira Gandhi International Airport from Dwarka side from this expressway, providing alternate connectivity to the airport for west Delhi and Haryana. 
 
The expressway will also provide direct access to upcoming Exhibition-Cum-Convention Centre in Sector 25 of Dwarka.
 
The 57-km long six-lane Jaipur Ring Road has been completed at a cost of Rs 1,217 crore. It connects NH-11 (Agra Road), NH-8 (Ajmer Road), NH-12 (Tonk Road), and NH-12 (Malpura Road). 
 
The project involved the construction of two road overbridges (ROBs), a flyover, two major bridges, 20 minor bridges, 32 Vehicular Underpasses (VUPs) and 31 culverts. The project envisages a considerable reduction in traffic congestion and pollution in Jaipur city.
 
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Rahul, Sonia among 15 candidates finalised by Congress for Lok Sabha elections

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi are in the first list of 15 candidates from Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat finalised by the party today for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, likely to be held in April-May.
 
Rahul Gandhi will contest again from his Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh and Sonia Gandhi from her seat of Rae Bareli.
 
The 11 candidates finalised for Uttar Pradesh also include former Union Ministers Salman Khurshid (Farrukhabad), R P N Singh (Kushi Nagar), Jitin Prasad (Dhaurahra) and Saleem Shervani (Badaun).
 
Other candidates are Imran Masood (Saharanpur), Annu Tandon (Unnao), Rajaram Pal (Akbarpur), Brij Lal Khatri (Jalaun-SC) and Nirmal Khatri (Faizabad).
 
In Gujarat, the Congress has decided to field former Rajya Sabha member Raju Parmar from Ahmedabad West-SC, former GPCC chief Bharatsinh M. Solanki from Anand, Prashant Patel from Vadodara and Ranjit Mohansinh Rathwa from Chhota Udepur-ST.
 
The names were finalised at a meeting of the Congress Central Election Committee held here today, a press release from the party added.
 
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Cabinet okays creation of post of VC for National Rail & Transport Institute at Vadodara

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The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the creation of the post of Vice-Chancellor for India's first rail and transportation university, National Rail & Transport Institute (NRTI) at Vadodara in Gujarat.
 
The Vice-Chancellor shall be the Principal Executive Officer of the institution and shall exercise general supervision and control over the affairs of the institution and shall be mainly responsible for implementation of the decisions of all the authorities of the Institution deemed to be University, an official press release said.
 
NRTI opened its doors to the first batch of 103 students from 20 states of India, in two fully-residential undergraduate courses - BSc. in Transportation Technology and DBA in Transportation Management, the classes for which started from September 5, 2018. These three-year degree programs have interdisciplinary curricula, benchmarked with leading institutions in the world, consisting of foundation, core and elective courses.
 
NRTI seeks to forge collaboration with leading international institutions in the areas of Joint research and faculty and student exchange. Memoranda of Agreement have been signed by NRTI with Cornell University, USA; University of California, Berkeley; MIIT, Moscow and St. Petersburg Transport University, Russia so far.
 
NRTI is focused on transport-related education, multidisciplinary research and training. It was established as a Deemed to be University under the de novo category in 2018 to create a resource pool of best-in-class professionals for the railway and transportation sector.
 
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CBI asks Interpol Nigeria to help trace Sterling Biotech directors

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The CBI has written to the Interpol in Nigeria seeking the whereabouts of Chetan and Nitin Sandesara, directors of the Gujarat-based pharma company Sterling Biotech. in connection with an over Rs 5,000-crore bank fraud case.
 
A senior official of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told IANS that it has written to the Interpol unit in Nigeria to share details on whereabouts of Nitin and Chetan Sandesara and his family members in that country. 
 
According to the agency source, the CBI wrote to the Interpol in Nigeria late on Monday.
 
The CBI official made the revelation amid media reports that Nitin and Chetan Sandesara, along with his family members, had fled to the African nation.
 
The CBI had booked Sterling Biotech, its directors Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara, Rajbhushan Omprakash Dixit, Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara and Vilas Joshi, chartered accountant Hemant Hathi, former Director of Andhra Bank Anup Prakash Garg and some unidentified persons in connection with the alleged bank fraud in October 2017.
 
According to the CBI FIR, Sterling Biotech had taken over Rs 5,000 crore loans from a consortium of banks led by Andhra Bank during the years 2004 to 2012, which had turned into non-performing assets. The total pending dues of the group companies were Rs 5,383 crore as on December 31, 2016. 
 
Meanwhile, a source in the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said the agency is set to file a chargesheet against the accused soon under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The source also said that the agency would also write to the Interpol seeking a red corner notice (RCN) against the accused. 
 
The ED had initiated a money laundering probe into the case taking cognizance of the CBI FIR.
 
On January 13, the ED had arrested Garg. The agency also arrested a Delhi-based businessman Gagan Dhawan in connection with the case in November last year. Besides, the Directorate also attached properties worth Rs 4,703 crore.
 
The ED had issued lookout circulars against the accused in August 2017. 
 
IANS
 

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L&T Defence opens production line for Transport Launch Canister for BrahMos Missiles

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L&T Defence, one of the leading industry partners of BrahMos Aerospace, today opened a new production line for Transport Launch Canister (TLC) at Ranoli here to cater to the serial production requirements of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile systems.
 
Dr. Sudhir K Mishra, DS & Director General (BrahMos) and CEO & MD, BrahMos Aerospace, inaugurated the second production line in the state of Gujarat to manufacture the indigenous canisters which are designed for storage, transportation and launch of the state-of-the-art BrahMos weapon system.
 
The canister for the missile serves the dual purpose of a container and that of a launching tube.
 
Mr. Jayant Patil, Whole-Time Director & Sr. Executive Vice-President – Defence Business, L&T, was also present during the official event.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Mishra said, “The highly successful BrahMos missile programme has taken a remarkable lead under the flagship ‘Make In India’ initiative of our Government. Today, BrahMos has created a robust ecosystem of indigenous defence manufacturing and integration, thus reinforcing and realising the long-cherished dream of self-reliance in this critical sector. And the immense contribution of each of our defence industry partners in this direction is highly commendable.”
 
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Mr. Patil said, “We have been associated with the development of BrahMos missile programme for close to two decades. Our journey started under the guidance of DRDO to develop indigenous capabilities and facilities for realization of composite airframes, canisters and allied sub-systems for BrahMos missile. Our products have successfully passed applicable qualification tests, and L&T has already started delivering these articles under serial production mode.”
 
The versatile, multi-role, multi-platform BrahMos has been integrated with L&T-manufactured Composite Airframes and two different versions of Transport Launch Canister (TLC). L&T Defence has successfully completed the realisation of Composite Airframes for the tactical missile.
 
L&T Defence’s Advanced Composites Manufacturing Facility at Ranoli, Vadodara, will now take up the serial production of BrahMos TLC. The unit has the accreditation of National Aerospace and Defence Contractors Accreditation Program (NADCAP) towards manufacturing of Aerospace Products. The Advanced Composites Laboratory at Ranoli, in its efforts towards quality compliance for the ongoing BrahMos programme, has received the Accreditation Certification from National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).
 
As a leading industry partner of BrahMos Aerospace, L&T Defence is augmenting the infrastructure at its Precision Manufacturing & Systems Complex, Coimbatore by adding a Composites Facility which will also cater to the serial production requirements. 
 
L&T Defence has also been closely involved in the design, development and production of Launchers and Fire Control Systems (FCS) for the formidable BrahMos missiles for naval platforms.
 
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Three Gujarat BJP MLAs protest against government

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Three senior ruling BJP legislators from Vadodara district came out in the open late on Wednesday evening expressing their resentment against the State government and claimed more than a dozen others were with them, hours after Chief Minister Vijay Rupani flew out the country on a six-day tour.
 
Three legislators, Madhu Srivastava from Waghodia constituency, Yogesh Patel from Manjalpur and Ketan Inamdar from Savli, asserted that several state ministers and the bureaucracy were not listening to them and showing a callous attitude to public representatives.
 
Incidentally, national BJP President Amit Shah was in his home state on Wednesday but the MLAs chose to vent their grievances before the media, also claiming that many more legislators were angry with the working of the government.
 
Madhu Srivastava, who is a legislator for six terms, asserted that several other frustrated MLAs were with them and they would also come out in future. "Today we are three but tomorrow there may be 13 or 23. Today we three, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, have got together. Now let anything happen," Srivastava said.
 
"Ever since the present government took charge six months ago, the bureaucrats in the state are working at their whims and fancies. And when we go to meet the ministers on the designated Tuesdays for us, we are unable to see them," Srivastava told reporters, as Patel and Inamdar nodded in agreement.
 
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Concurring with Srivastava, Yogesh Patel said that their only demand was that when they seek resolution to the issues of their electorate, it must be sorted out but this was not happening.
 
Asked if they had made a representation to the Chief Minister about this, Srivastava said, "We are not going to stand in queue (to meet him) if the officials did not allow them."
 
Ketan Inamdar said their anger was not against the party or the government but with the attitude of officials. "The government which is trying to do best for the people, should sure have control over the bureaucracy but it appears the officials have got thick-skinned," he said.
 
The BJP swiftly swung in to action, asking senior Cabinet minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama to intervene. "Whatever be the issue, I, Nitin bhai (Deputy Chief Minister) and Jitubhai Vaghani (state BJP President) will speak to them in person and sort out their issues," Chudasama said.
 
BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said, "The three have been summoned by state party chief for a meeting in person. We have touched base with them and asked them to put forth their grievances on the right forum."
 
IANS
 
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ED attaches Sterling Biotech properties worth Rs 4,700 crore

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday said it has attached properties worth Rs 4,700 crore in a Rs 5,000-crore bank fraud case involving Gujarat-based pharmaceutical company Sterling Biotech.
 
The Directorate has attached properties of Sterling Biotech in Mumbai and Ahmedabad under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, an ED official told IANS.
 
The official said the attached assets include around 4,000 acres of immovable properties, plant machinery, around 200 bank accounts of various companies and accounts of promoters, shares worth Rs 6.67 crore and various high-end luxury cars.
 
The ED action comes after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) lodged an FIR against Sterling Biotech, its directors Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara, Rajbhushan Omprakash Dixit, Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara and Vilas Joshi, Chartered Accountant Hemant Hathi, Anup Prakash Garg and some unidentified persons in connection with the alleged bank fraud.
 
Sterling Biotech had taken loans of over Rs 5,000 crore from a consortium of banks led by Andhra Bank which turned into non-performing assets. The total pending dues of the group companies stood at Rs 5,383 crore as on December 31, 2016, said the CBI FIR.
 
The Directorate said that during the probe, it found that "certain entries" in a diary seized by the Income Tax Department in 2011 showed cash payments amounting to Rs 1.52 crore made to one "Garg, Director, Andhra Bank" between 2008 and 2009 by the Sandesara brothers.
 
On January 13, the ED arrested Garg. The agency also arrested a Delhi-based businessman Gagan Dhawan in connection with the case in November 2017.
 
According to the ED officials, the Sandesaras had set up more than 300 shell and benami companies in India and abroad, which were used to divert and misutilise loan funds. The modus operandi of money laundering involved formation of shell or benami companies, manipulating balance sheets, inflating turnovers, insider shares trading, etc. 
 
"These shell and benami companies were controlled by the Sandesaras through dummy directors, who were or are employees of the various companies of Sterling Group," the official said.
 
According to the agency officials, a major breakthrough in the case came when the agency was successful in recovering truckloads of material connected to the formation and management of the various shell and benami companies, such as original cheque books, rubber stamps, company seals, original property documents, original PAN cards, and more than 10 lakh pages of other incriminating documents.
 
"This material was recovered from a room in Jogeshwari (East), Mumbai, where it was shifted from various premises and was being concealed to evade seizure," the official said.
 
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To date, the ED has carried out more than 50 searches at various premises in multiple cities including Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Vadodara, Ahmedabad and Surat, in connection with the case.
 
The official said the siphoned off loan funds were used to buy properties in the names of various companies, to purchase shares of Sterling Biotech Ltd and Sterling International Enterprises Ltd to attract market fancy and project a healthy picture of the companies, and to purchase luxury cars including Porsche, Range Rover, Audi, Mercedes, BMW etc.
 
Besides, the loan money was transferred to other companies' accounts, from where an amount of about Rs 140 crore was withdrawn. Such shell or benami companies included Dipraj Trading Ltd., Embio Trading Ltd., Gatsby Trading Ltd., Newport Enterprise Ltd., Raj Bones Ltd., which were also used for various personal purposes such as purchase of jewellery.
 
Some of the diverted loan funds were also paid to public servants. 
 
The official said that the Sandesaras are into the oil business and own several rigs, barges and oilfields across Nigeria. Apart from this, they have several business concerns in Mauritius, the UAE, British Virgin Islands, Seychelles and the USA, among other countries. 
 
"More than 50 foreign bank accounts and several other assets and properties located abroad, related to the Sterling Group, are also under the ED scanner," the official added.
 
IANS
 
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ED attaches property worth Rs 1,122 cr of Vadodara's Diamond Power

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday attached property worth Rs 1,122 crore belonging to Vadodara-based DPIL firm in connection with a Rs 2,654.40 crore bank fraud case.
 
The ED has also attached some belongings of promoter-directors of the Diamond Power Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. -- Suresh Narain Bhatnagar, his two sons Amit Suresh Bhatnagar and Sumit Suresh Bhatnagar -- under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). 
 
DPIL, which deals in cables and other electrical equipment, is alleged to have availed credit facilities fraudulently since 2008, leaving behind a total outstanding debt of Rs 2,654.40 crore as of June 29, 2016 sanctioned by a consortium of banks.
 
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is also probing corruption charges in the case, had on April 18 arrested the three from Udaipur in Rajasthan nearly 23 days after it filed an FIR against them. 
 
The ED is probing financial irregularities under money laundering case it has filed based on the CBI FIR. 
 
On April 9, the ED had also conducted raids at the corporate office, factory premises and the residences of the directors of DPIL. 
 
The CBI had on March 26, filed a case against DPIL and its directors for defrauding the consortium of 11 banks. The loan availed by them was declared a non-performing asset (NPA) in 2016-17. 
 
The company managed to get term loans and credit facilities though it figured in the Reserve Bank of India's list of defaulters and the caution list of Export Credit Guarantee Corp of India (ECGCI) at the time of initial sanction of credit limits by the consortium.
 
Bank of India, which tops the list with Rs 670.51 crore of loans, is followed by Bank of Baroda (Rs 348.99 crore), ICICI (Rs 279.46 crore), State Bank of India (Rs 266.37 crore), Axis Bank (Rs 255.32 crore), Allahabad Bank (Rs 227.96), Dena Bank (Rs 177.19 crore), Corporation Bank (109.12 crore), Exim Bank of India (Rs 81.92 crore), IOB (Rs 71.59 crore) and IFCI (58.53 crore). 
 
The CBI FIR said DPIL, through its founder and directors associated in the criminal conspiracy with unidentified bank officials of various banks, cheated those banks by way of misappropriating public funds through falsification of accounts, creation of false documents, forgery of records and knowingly used such records as genuine. 
 
IANS
 
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CBI arrests 3 company directors in Rs 2,654 crore bank fraud case

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The CBI has arrested three promoter-directors of a Vadodara-based company in connection with its ongoing investigation into an alleged case of Rs 2,654.40 crore fraud committed on a consortium of banks, officials said on Wednesday.
 
A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) official told IANS: "The agency has arrested the promoter-directors of the Diamond Power Infrastructure Ltd (DIPL) Suresh Narain Bhatnagar, his two sons Amit Suresh Bhatnagar and Sumit Suresh Bhatnagar."
 
The CBI located the accused in Udaipur in Rajasthan on Tuesday evening with the assistance of Gujarat Police and arrested them on Wednesday morning.
 
The official said they would be produced before the Special Judge of CBI Cases in Ahmedabad.
 
On March 26, the CBI filed a case against DPIL and its directors for defrauding the consortium of 11 banks of Rs 2,654.40 crore. The loan availed by them was declared a non-performing asset (NPA) in 2016-17.
 
Since the filing of case, the agency has carried out searches at the corporate office, two factory premises and the residences of the directors of the firm. 
 
According to the CBI FIR, the DPIL, which is engaged in the production of cables and other electrical equipment, fraudulently availed credit facilities since 2008, leaving behind a total outstanding debit of Rs 2,654.40 crore as of June 29, 2016.
 
The agency said that the company managed to get term loans and credit facilities thought it figured in the Reserve Bank of India's list of defaulters and the caution list of Export Credit Guarantee Corp of India (ECGCI) at the time of initial sanction of credit limits by the consortium.
 
At the time of consortium's formation in 2008, Axis Bank was the lead bank for the term loan and the Bank of India was the lead bank for cash credit (CC) limits.
 
The Bank of India, which tops the list with Rs 670.51 crore of loans, is followed by Bank of Baroda (Rs 348.99 crore), ICICI Bank (Rs 279.46 crore), State Bank of India (Rs 266.37 crore), Axis Bank (Rs 255.32 crore), Allahabad Bank (Rs 227.96), Dena Bank (Rs 177.19 crore), Corporation Bank (109.12 crore), Exim Bank of India (Rs 81.92 crore), IOB (Rs 71.59) and the IFCI Bank (58.53 crore). 
 
The company, allegedly with the support of officials from various banks, managed to obtain enhancement in credit facilities. 
 
The FIR said the DPIL, through its founder and directors associated in the criminal conspiracy with the unidentified bank officials of various banks, cheated those banks by way of misappropriating public funds through falsification of accounts, creation of false documents, forgery of records and knowingly using such records as genuine.
 
IANS
 
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CBI files case against Vadodara firm for alleged Rs 2,654 crore fraud

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The CBI on Thursday said it has filed a case against Vadodara-based Diamond Power Infrastructure Ltd (DPIL) and its directors for allegedly defrauding a consortium of 11 banks of Rs 2,654.40 crore.
 
Apart from DPIL, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) FIR filed on March 26 includes the names of firm's founder Suresh Narain Bhatnagar and his sons Amit Suresh and Sumit Suresh.
 
The FIR also mentions some unidentified public servants.
 
The CBI has reportedly conducted searches at the corporate office, two factory premises and at the residences of the directors of the firm. 
 
The loan, it said, was declared a non-performing asset (NPA) in 2016-17. 
 
DPIL, which is engaged in the production of cables and other electrical equipment, through its management has fraudulently availed credit facilities from a consortium of 11 banks since 2008, leaving behind a total outstanding debit of Rs 2,654.40 crore as of June 29, 2016, according to the FIR.
 
The company managed to get term loans and credit facilities, in spite of the fact that they were already appearing in the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)'s list of defaulters and the caution list of Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India (ECGCI) at the time of initial sanction of credit limits by the consortium, it said.
 
At the time of the consortium's formation in 2008, Axis Bank was the lead bank for the term loan and the Bank of India was the lead bank for cash credit (CC) limits.
 
Bank of India, which tops the list with Rs 670.51 crore of loans, is followed by Bank of Baroda (Rs 348.99 crore), ICICI Bank (Rs 279.46 crore), State Bank of India (Rs 266.37 crore), Axis Bank (Rs 255.32 crore), Allahabad Bank (Rs 227.96), Dena Bank (Rs 177.19 crore), Corporation Bank (109.12 crore), Exim Bank of India (Rs 81.92 crore), IOB (Rs 71.59) and IFCI (58.53 crore). 
 
The company, allegedly with the support of officials from various banks, managed to obtain enhancement in credit facilities. 
 
During 2011, DPIL had projected a turnover of Rs 2,197.60 crore for the year 2012, whereas the actual turnover was Rs 1,267.60 crore only for the year 2011, the FIR said.
 
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"DPIL got credit facilities enhanced from Rs 285 crore to Rs 480 crore." 
 
Next year, against its projected estimate of Rs 2,197.60 crore, DPIL actually achieved a turnover of Rs 1,740.38 crore, which was Rs 457.22 crore less from the projected turnover figure, despite the fact that the CC limit was fully availed by the company, said the FIR.
 
Bank of India officials, while conducting the credit review, did not decrease the CC limit and kept it unchanged at Rs 480 crore even though such figures were based on grossly exaggerated sales figures, it said.
 
DPIL is also accused of submitting false stock statements to the lead bank by treating the receivables more than 180 days (Non-Current Asset) to less that 180 days (Current Asset) to get more drawing power in their CC accounts.
 
The firm also allegedly utilised the CC limits for obtaining a large number of Letters of Credit (LCs), many of which could not be honoured by the company and were thus forced charged on the credit limit.
 
"It is learnt that about 1,000 such LCs were issued since 2008 by Bank of India alone. The LCs were issued by the bank officials in favour of sister concerns in gross violation of bank's guidelines in order to give undue pecuniary favour to the borrowers," the FIR read.
 
"Thereby, DPIL was able to fraudulently divert the bank funds and thus, the securities were grossly inadequate to cover the outstanding dues of the consortium of banks amounting to Rs 2,654.40 crore."
 
The FIR said DPIL, through its founder and directors associated in the criminal conspiracy with the unidentified bank officials of various banks, cheated those banks by way of misappropriating public funds through falsification of accounts, creation of false documents, forgery of records and knowingly using such records as genuine. 
 
IANS
 
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Potent anti-obesity agent works in rats

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Obesity has emerged as public health problem, resulting in significant burden of non-communicable diseases. A team of scientists at the Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda have claimed success with a potent anti-obesity agent in studies done in laboratory animals.
 
The group, led by Prof. Mange Ram Yadav, has designed new molecules that seem to be effective in controlling food intake in preliminary studies done in rats. The researchers screened database of chemical compounds and identified a chemical moiety, phenothiazine, that can be modified to act as an anti-obesity agent. These compounds, containing phenothiazine, act on Cannabinoid Receptor 1 and inhibit it.
 
Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1R) is a class of receptors present in the brain and other tissues and organs like eyes, mouth and oral cavity, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal tract, and immune system. These receptors are involved in various functions like regulating our appetite, pain andemotions. A receptor is a molecule on the surface of a cell that receives chemical signals from the outside and results in initiating a response inside the cell.
 
“Activation of CB1R leads to increased food intake, while inhibition of this receptor decreases the feeding,” researchers explained. By exploiting this quality of CB1R, the team designed new molecules that target and inhibit this receptor and thus lead to decreased food intake. They further modified the molecule in such a way that it does not reach the brain and only acts on cells outside the central nervous system. This may help in avoiding side effects like anxiety and depression.
 
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Preliminary studies done in rats showed significant decrease in food intake as compared to rats in the control group. This study results have been published recently in journal Scientific Reports.
 
“This group has reported the role of phenothiazine nucleus containing compounds as peripherally acting cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptor antagonists for management of obesity. The investigations have indicated good physiochemical and pharmacokinetic properties suggesting their drug- like behaviour," noted Dr. Gita Chawla, Associate Professor in Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Jamia Hamdard, who was not connected with the study.
 
“We are currently in the process of chemical modification and optimization of molecule activity that can then be converted in the form of drug," Prof. Yadav told India Science Wire. He said he has filed a patent application in India for these compounds.
 
The team included Mayank Kumar Sharma, Jatin Machhi and Prashant Murumkar.
 
(India Science Wire)
 
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Sayajirao Gaikwad supported talented people from underprivileged sections: Kovind

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President Ram Nath Kovind today said Maharaja Sayajirao Gaikwad, who founded the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda for promoting high-quality education, had supported and encouraged talented people from the underprivileged sections of society, including Dr B R Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution.
 
Addressing the 66th convocation of the University here, Mr Kovind said at that time, there were very few people with such an expansive vision as the Maharaja.
 
He appreciated the efforts of the University for institutionalising fellowships for students from economically weaker sections. Contributions of the students towards the development of those from a deprived and underprivileged background would be consistent with the ideals of Sayajirao, he added.
 
Later in the day, the President attended the 150th anniversary of Akshar Deri, a major site of pilgrimage for the Swaminarayan sect in Gondal.
 
Mr Kovind noted that the Swaminarayan Sanstha is engaged in providing assistance to spread education among weaker sections. Similarly, it is providing health services for the welfare of people. He praised the humanitarian work of the organisation.
 
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Kovind to pay two-day visit to Gujarat on January 21-22

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President Ram Nath Kovind will pay a two-day visit to Gujarat from tomorrow, when he will attend the 66th annual convocation of Gujarat University in Ahmedabad.
 
On January 22, the President will address the 66th annual convocation of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda.  
 
On the same day, the President will grace the 150th anniversary celebrations of Akshar Deri at Gondal, before returning to Delhi, an official press release added.
 
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CCI imposes penalties on two druggists associations in Gujarat

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The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has imposed penalties on the Chemists and Druggists Association of Baroda (CDAB) and Federation of Gujarat State Chemists and Druggists Association (FGSCDA) after finding them to be in contravention of the provisions of the Competition Act, 2002.
 
An official press release said the Commission had imposed a monetary penalty of Rs. 1,08,588 and Rs. 11,11,549, calculated at the rate of 10% of their average income, on CDAB and FGSCDA, respectively, under the provisions of Section 27 of the Act. 
 
Penalties of Rs. 34,048 and Rs. 62,144, calculated at the rate of 10% of their respective average incomes, have also been imposed upon Mr. V.T. Shah (President, CDAB) and Mr. Jashvant Patel (President, FGSCDA).
 
The release said that one of the stockists based in Vadodara (Baroda) had filed an information alleging that despite an earlier order of the Commission in the year 2012, CDAB, through its practices, had continued to limit and control the supply of drugs and medicines in the market by mandating ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC/LOC) prior to appointment of stockists and payment of Product Information Service (PIS) charges prior to introduction of new products in the market by pharmaceutical companies.
 
The Commission said that investigations carried out by its Director General (DG) revealed involvement of the State Level Association, FGSCDA, besides CDAB, in the alleged conduct. After detailed enquiry, the Commission has found that CDAB and the Gujarat Federation were indulging in the anti-competitive practice of insisting NOC prior to the appointment of new stockists by pharmaceutical companies. Further, the Gujarat Federation was found to be carrying on the practice of making introduction of new products in the market subject to payment of PIS charge and its approval. 
 
These practices were held to be limiting and controlling supplies of drugs/medicines in the market, in contravention of Section 3 (3) (b) read with Section 3 (1) of the Act. Further, the Commission has held Mr. Shah and Mr. Patel to be responsible under Section 48 of the Act, for their involvement in the anti-competitive practices.
 
Accordingly, CDAB, Gujarat Federation and their office bearers, have been directed to cease and desist from indulging in the aforesaid anti-competitive practice.
 
"This case is yet another example of how competitive markets and fair-play in the distribution of drugs/medicines are being compromised by the persisting anti-competitive behaviour of the chemist and druggist associations at the Regional as well as State level. It is indeed a serious matter that despite various orders by the Commission in similar cases and specific directions through a press notice, chemist and druggist associations have not mended their ways and have continued to indulge in such anti-competitive conduct. Considering the larger public interest involved in the distribution of drugs/medicines, the Commission deprecates such a conduct and its perpetration in any form by those responsible, be it the Associations, Stockists/ Distributor/ Wholesaler/ Retailer and the Pharmaceutical Companies. Given the widespread and continuing indulgence in the anti-competitive practices, the Competition Commission of India will be keeping a close watch on the conduct by all such entities in various parts of the country and would not hesitate to take action, wherever deemed necessary," the release added.
 
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Cabinet okays establishment of National Rail and Transportation University at Vadodara

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The Union Cabinet yesterday approved a proposal to set up the first National Rail and Transport University (NRTU) at Vadodara in Gujarat to skill its human resources and build capability.
 
An official press release said this transformative initiative of the Ministry of Railways would be catalyst for transformation of the rail and transport sector towards "New India".
 
The University will be set up as a Deemed to Be University under de novo category as per the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2016. Government is working towards completing all approvals by April 2018 and to launch the first academic program in July 2018, it said.
 
The release said a not-for-profit company under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013 would be created by the Ministry of Railways which shall be the Managing Company of the proposed university. The company will provide financial and infrastructural support to the university, and appoint Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor of the university. 
 
Its Board of Management, comprising professionals and academics, shall be independent of the Managing Company with full autonomy to perform its academic and administrative responsibilities, it said.
 
The existing land and infrastructure at National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) (formerly Railway Staff College) at Vadodara will be utilized, and suitably modified and modernized for the purpose of the university. In its full enrolment, it is expected to have 3000 full-time students. The funding of the new University/Institute will entirely come from the Ministry of Railways, it said.
 
"This university will set Indian Railways on the path of modernisation and help India become a global leader in transport sector by enhancing productivity and promoting 'Make in India'. It will create a resource pool of skilled manpower and leverage state-of-the-art technology to provide better safety, speed and service in Indian Railways. It will support 'Startup India' and 'Skill India' by channeling technology and delivering knowhow, and foster entrepreneurship, generating large scale employment opportunities. This will lead to transformation of railway and transportation sector and enable faster movement of people and goods. Through global partnerships and accessing cutting edge technologies, India will emerge as a global centre of expertise," the release said.
 
According to it, the university plans to use latest pedagogy and technology applications (satellite based tracking, Radio Frequency Identification and Artificial Intelligence) to improve on-the-job performance and productivity. Close collaboration with the Indian Railways will ensure that the stakeholders have access to Railways' facilities, which will work as 'live labs' and they will be able to work on solving real life problems. It will have 'Centres of Excellence' showcasing high-end, niche technology like High Speed Train.
 
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10-ft-long crocodile captured, released in Vadodara

 
10-ft-long crocodile captured, released in Vadodara

Local residents and boatmen in Vadodara captured a crocodile which had strayed close to a village. 

A boatman said panic gripped Chanod village after the residents spotted a 10-11-feet-long crocodile in the nearby river.

The boatmen tied down the crocodile and informed the forest officials. However, they released it back into the river when they noticed that the reptile was injured. 

ANI

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Rahul Gandhi continues to attack govt. on demonetisation, GST

 
Rahul Gandhi attacks Modi govt. on demonetisation, GST
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi today kept up his relentless attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the twin moves of demonetisation and "hasty" introduction of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) and derided the government for gloating over the improvement in India's ranking in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business report released yesterday.
 
Addressing a public meeting in Jambusar in Bharuch district near here on the first day of a three-day trip to poll-bound Gujarat, his third visit in recent weeks, he said that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley sat in his office in Delhi and interacts with foreign institutions.
 
"We request him to spedn just five or ten minutes with a small trader or a small or medium-sized enterprise and ask them about ease of doing business," he said.
 
"The whole country will say that there is no ease of doing business. Demonetisation and GST have destroyed the economy," he said. "But what foreign institutions say is the truth for them, and what the common man in the country says is a lie."
 
Mr. Gandhi said the government was talking about the benefits of GST and demonetisation at a time when there is misery and anger all over the country. "There is an undercurrent of anger, and in the coming elections in Gujarat, the BJP will get a shock," he said.
 
"Your state has shown the path to the rest of the country for decades. You gave us leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel. The people of Gujarat have now realised that the real strength lay with them," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi talked at length about the "Gujarat model of development" which, he claimed, had benefitted only the top five or ten industrialists of the state and bypassed the vast majority of the poor, the farmers, the youth and other vulnerable sections.
 
He alleged that the Gujarat government had provided a loan of Rs. 33,000 crore for the Tata group's Nano car project in the state, along with land, water, power and many other facilities. He said that, at the same time, the government ignored the farmers' demand for loan waiver.
 
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"Do you see the car anywhere in the country now? That amount could have helped the government waive off farmers' loans. They took land from you, took your water, power, gave it to industrialists. That is the Gujarat model," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi said the private sector had come to play a huge role in the state in areas such as education and healthcare, putting them out of the reach of ordinary people. "If you don't have money in your pocket, you cannot get treatment at any private hospital, whether you have cancer or heart disease. That is the Gujarat model," he said.
 
He said the government had also failed to provide jobs to the youth and there were some three lakh unemployed youth in Gujarat today.
 
He ridiculed the government's plans to celebrate November 8, the first anniversary of the demonetisation of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 notes, when it was widely known that it had caused untold misery for the common man.
 
"They know that he made a huge mistake, that he wiped out 2% of the country's GDP," he said, adding that the government's claim that it would flush out black money had turned out to be false.
 
Similarly, he said, the hasty and unplanned implementation of the GST had led to huge problems for small traders and small and medium enterprises.
 
Gujarat is scheduled to vote in two phases on December 9 and 14 to elect a new 182-member state legislative assembly. Votes will be counted on December 18.
 
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PM launches Ghogha-Dahej ferry service in Gujarat, says coastal infrastructre being developed

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that his government had, in the last three years, given a lot of importance to Gujarat and stressed that the state must harness the opportunities offered by its long coastline.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the maiden voyage of Ro-Ro ferry service between Ghogha and Dahej, in Gujarat on October 22, 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the maiden voyage of Ro-Ro ferry service between Ghogha and Dahej, in Gujarat on October 22, 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said his government had, in the last three years, given a lot of importance to Gujarat and stressed that the state must harness the opportunities offered by its long coastline.
 
Addressing a public meeting before inaugurating Phase 1 of the roll-on, roll-off (Ro-Ro) ferry service between Ghogha in Bhavnagar district in the Saurashtra region of the state and Dahej in Bharuch district of South Gujarat, he said the government had taken steps to develop the country's coastal infrastructure.
 
This ferry service too, he said, would not be restricted to this one route. He said that other places too would be linked through ferries. He said the goal of the Union Government is to make the transport sector integrated, and state-of-the-art. 
 
At present, the 360 km road journey from Dahej to Ghogha takes about seven to eight hours. The two places are only 31 km apart, separated by the Gulf of Cambay, and the ferry service is expected to reduce the travel time to just over an hour.
 
While Phase-1 will enable passenger movement, the service will also enable movement of vehicles when fully operationalised.
 
Mr. Modi also inaugurated the Sarvottam Cattle Feed Plant of Shree Bhavnagar District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd. 
 
He said that he was happy to be in Gujarat to personally convey new year greetings. He said that this programme, for the launch of a ferry between Ghogha and Dahej, is of vital importance for the entire nation. Noting that this ferry service is a first of sorts, the Prime Minister said it is a dream come true for the 6.5 crore people of Gujarat. 
 
He said that the history of human civilisation illustrates the vitality of rivers and maritime trade. "Gujarat is the land of Lothal; how can we forget these aspects of our history," he said.
 
"This programme is to bring back to life our glorious past; and connect Saurashtra with South Gujarat," he said. He pointed out that people from the two regions frequently travel to and fro; and this ferry service will save a lot of time, as well as fuel. 
 
Mr. Modi travelled on the maiden voyage of this service, from Ghogha to Dahej. During this voyage, he was given a briefing about the ship, and the ferry service. He also interacted with a group of differently-abled children on board the ship. 
 
Addressing a gathering in Dahej, the Prime Minister said that the Government's vision is ports for prosperity. India needs better ports and more ports, he added. Without proper connectivity, the economic development of a nation slows down, he asserted, adding that the Government has focused on port infrastructure. 
 
The Prime Minister mentioned the Government's stress on the blue economy, which he said is integral to the vision of a new India. 
 
Later, Mr. Modi travelled to Vadodara, where he dedicated to the nation the Vadodara City Command Control Centre; the Waghodiya Regional Water Supply Scheme; and the new head office building of the Bank of Baroda, at a public meeting in the city.
 
He handed over keys of houses to beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban, as well as Rural). He laid the foundation stones of several infrastructure and development projects, including an integrated transport hub, regional water supply schemes, housing projects, and a flyover. He also laid the foundation stone for the capacity expansion of the Mundra-Delhi petroleum product pipeline, and a greenfield marketing terminal project of HPCL, at Vadodara. 
 
Addressing a gathering, the Prime Minister said that the scale of development works launched in Vadodara today was unprecedented. 
 
He said that the Government is clear about its priority being development, and resources being used for the well-being of the citizens. 
 
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Mr. Modi said that, since the time he was a child, he had been hearing about a ferry service from Ghogha to Dahej. He said that the Government is now focused on all-round development and the ferry had been made operational today. 
 
He said that as in previous years, "Run For Unity," will be organised to mark the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel on October 31. He urged people to take part in this enthusiastically. 
 
This is the fourth visit by Mr. Modi in the past five weeks to Gujarat, his home state, where legislative assembly elections are due to be held later this year.
 
The Election Commission is yet to announce the dates for the elections in Gujarat, but Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti, who announced the schedule for elections in Himachal Pradesh on October 12, told newspersons that day that they would be held before December 18.
 
"Polling in Gujarat will take place before December 18 so that in no way the results of Himachal can affect the voting in Gujarat. We will, in a few days, announce the dates for Gujarat elections, but I can say for sure that voting in Gujarat will happen before December 18," he said.
 
The Commission's decision to not announce the election dates for Gujarat along with the poll schedule for Himachal Pradesh has invited strong criticism from the opposition Congress, which alleged that the BJP would use the interim period to announce sops for the people in Gujarat.
 
Earlier this week, on October 16, Mr. Modi addressed the "Gujarat Gaurav Mahasammelan" near Gandhinagar, a gathering of workers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the culmination of two fortnight-long marches through almost all Assembly constituencies across the state.
 
On October 7-8, Mr. Modi paid a two-day visit to Gujarat, during which he travelled to Dwarka, his home town of Vadnagar, Chotila, Gandhinagar and Bharuch, among other places, and launched several development projects in the state. He also addressed a series of public meetings.
 
Before that, Mr. Modi had paid a visit to the state on September 17, when he had dedicated the Sardar Sarovar Dam, built on the Narmada, to the nation at Kevadia. He also visited Amreli, where he inaugurated a new market yard of the APMC and new plants of the Amar Dairy.
 
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Modi to visit Gujarat, inaugurate Ro Ro ferry service between Dahej, Ghogha

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit his poll-bound home state of Gujarat on Sunday when he will, among other things, inaugurate Phase 1 of the roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) ferry service between Dahej in South Gujarat and Ghogha in Saurashtra.
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit his poll-bound home state of Gujarat tomorrow when he will, among other things, inaugurate Phase 1 of the roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) ferry service between Dahej in South Gujarat and Ghogha in Saurashtra.
 
Mr. Modi will launch the service, which he described as his "dream project" earlier this month, at a public meeting at Ghogha, a town in Bhavnagar district.
 
The service is expected to reduce the travel time between Ghogha and Dahej, which now takes about seven to eight hours by road, to just over an hour. Dahej is just 31 km away across the Gulf of Cambay by sea from Ghogha. 
 
When fully operationalized, it will also enable movement of vehicles. On Sunday, the Prime Minister will inaugurate Phase 1, which is passenger movement. He will travel in the maiden voyage of this service, from Ghogha to Dahej. He will also address the gathering at Dahej, after completion of the voyage, the release said.
 
Also at the public meeting in Ghogha, Mr. Modi will inaugurate the Sarvottam Cattle Feed Plant of Shree Bhavnagar District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd. 
 
From Dahej, located in Bharuch district, the Prime Minister will travel to Vadodara. At a public meeting there, he will dedicate to the nation, the Vadodara City Command Control Centre; the Waghodiya Regional Water Supply Scheme; and the New Head Office Building of the Bank of Baroda.
 
He will hand over keys of houses to beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban, as well as Rural). He will lay the foundation stones of several infrastructure and development projects, including an integrated transport hub, regional water supply schemes, housing projects, and a flyover. 
 
He will also lay the foundation stone for the capacity expansion of the Mundra-Delhi petroleum product pipeline, and a greenfield marketing terminal project of HPCL, at Vadodara, the release added.
 
The Prime Minister has been, for the past few weeks, regularly visiting the state, where legislative assembly elections are due to be held later this year.
 
The Election Commission is yet to announce the dates for the elections in Gujarat, but Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti, who announced the schedule for elections in Himachal Pradesh on October 12, told newspersons that day that they would be held before December 18.
 
"Polling in Gujarat will take place before December 18 so that in no way the results of Himachal can affect the voting in Gujarat. We will, in a few days, announce the dates for Gujarat elections, but I can say for sure that voting in Gujarat will happen before December 18," he said.
 
The Commission's decision to not announce the election dates for Gujarat along with the poll schedule for Himachal Pradesh has invited strong criticism from the opposition Congress, which alleged that the BJP would use the interim period to announce sops for the people in Gujarat.
 
Earlier this week, on October 16, Mr. Modi addressed the "Gujarat Gaurav Mahasammelan" near Gandhinagar, a gathering of workers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the culmination of two fortnight-long marches through almost all Assembly constituencies across the state.
 
On October 7-8, Mr. Modi paid a two-day visit to Gujarat, during which he travelled to Dwarka, his home town of Vadnagar, Chotila, Gandhinagar and Bharuch, among other places, and launched several development projects in the state. He also addressed a series of public meetings.
 
Before that, Mr. Modi had paid a visit to the state on September 17, when he had dedicated the Sardar Sarovar Dam, built on the Narmada, to the nation at Kevadia. He also visited Amreli, where he inaugurated a new market yard of the APMC and new plants of the Amar Dairy.
 
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RIL to acquire assets of Kemrock Industries, to foray into new materials business

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Energy and petrochemicals Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has acquired the assets of Kemrock Industries and Exports Limited of Vadodara in Gujarat as part of its foray into the new materials business.
 
A press release from RIL said the company won the online bidding process held by Allahabad Bank, as the leader of the consortium of 11 banks, to sell and dispose of the assets of Kemrock.
 
The release said RIL's participation in the process was part of its efforts to enter the composites business and establish a leadership position in this large and growing market in India. 
 
Composites are used in a variety of applications and industries such as renewable energy, mass transportation, infrastructure and a host of other industrial products, it said.
 
The release said the assets would pave the way for Reliance to foray into new materials (Composites and Carbon Fibre) and further strengthen its petrochemicals business portfolio.
 
"The company is in the process of complying with the necessary formalities for acquisition of assets," the release added.
 
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Cabinet approves transfer of 4.64 hectares of land belonging to IISWC at Vasad, Gujarat to NHAI

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The Union Cabinet yesterday approved a proposal for transfer of 4.64 hectares (46384 sq. meters) of land belonging to the Indian Institute of Soil & Water Conservation (IISWC) Research Centre at Vasad, Gujarat to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for extension and six-laning of Ahmedabad-Vadodara Highway on National Highway (NH)-8.
 
A compensation amounting to Rs. 12.67 crore is to be paid for the transfer, an official press release said yesterday. 
 
The transfer of land to the NHAl for the construction of extension and six- laning is likely to benefit the region, leading to enhanced opportunities for growth and development in terms of infrastructure, transport, communication, employment generation, and so on, the release added.
 
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APM Terminals Pipavav receives inaugural container train service from Rail Container Terminal, Vadodara

APM Terminals at Pipavav in Gujarat received the inaugural container train from Rail Container Terminal [RCT], Vadodara carrying glass materials, syringes, LED bulbs, flexible intermediate bulk container [FIBC] jumbo bags and platic articles for export.
 
Operated by Container Corporation of India [CONCOR], the inaugural trip of the service was welcomed by officials from Railways, CONCOR, APM Terminals and liners, a press release from the company.
 
Vadodara is a major business and trade centre in western India, with  industries like Petrochemicals, Engineering, Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Plastics, IT and Foreign exchange services amongst others. It is also an important terminal for the Indian railways connecting Vadodara city with North, South and Eastern regions of the country. 
 
Through this service, customers in and around the city will get an option of movement of their cargos to and from Vadodara for export and import.
 
The current fortnightly service will be converted to a weekly service going forward, the release said.
 
Mr. Keld Pedersen - Managing Director, APM Terminal, Pipavav said, “We thank CONCOR for this initiative of connecting port Pipavav and Vadodara city. The new service will help safe and secure movement of cargos to our customers.”
 
APM Terminals Pipavav [Gujarat Pipavav Port Ltd.] is India's first Public Private Partnership (PPP) port in India having connectivity to the Gujarat Region and the Northern hinterlands of India. It serves as a gateway for movement of containers, bulk, liquid and RORO cargo.
 
The company is a part of the APM Terminals which is a leading global port and cargo inland services provider with a presence in 69 countries with 73 ports, nine new ports under construction and ten facilities in expansion mode – along with an inland services network spanning 140 locations.   Based in The Hague, Netherlands, the company works with shipping lines, importers/exporters, governments, business leaders and the global supply chain to provide solutions for businesses.
 
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Bharatanatyam exponent C. V. Chandrasekhar, 81, enthralls dance lovers in Vadodara

C. V. Chandrasekhar
C. V. Chandrasekhar
Renowed Bharatanatyam exponent C. V. Chandrasekhar, who is a recipient of the Padma Bhushan, the nation's third highest civilian honour, enthralled an audience of dance lovers with a mesmerising performance at the C. C. Mehta Auditorium here on February 15 evening, making light of his 81 years of age.
 
The event was organized by Ghargharika, an organization in Vadodara that aims to promote classical dance with Prof. Chandrasekhar as its president and Ms. Tejal Amin as its secretary. Ms. Rema Shrikant, a well-known Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer and guru, based in the city, who has trained under Prof. Chandrasekhar for 17 years, took the lead in organising the event.
 
The organisers also arranged a dance workshop by Prof. Chandrasekhar at the Navarachana School the next day.
 
Dignitaries present at the recital included Mrs. Shubhangini Devi Gaekwad, wife of late Ranjitsingh Gaekwad, the head of the erstwhile ruling family of Gaekads of Baroda, renowned painter Ghulam Mohammed Shaikh and noted dance critic Sunil Kothari.
 
For the audience, it was an evening of sheer divinity, as though Lord Shiva himself had descended onto the stage in his Nataraja form. The recital was marked by perfect form, clean lines, complex tirmanams and controlled yet powerful abhinaya as Chandrasekhar danced without a break, including a 40-minute varnam.
 
Despite his advanced age, Chandrasekhar performed with agility, perfection and beauty in execution.
 
With his wife Jaya Chandrasekhar rendering the natuvangam (together, they are among India's best known dancer-couples) and Natarajan on the mridangam, it was truly one of the most memorable performances for most of those present.
 
For dance lovers in Vadodara, Chandrasekhar is one of their own, the guru having taught  at the Faculty of Performing Arts at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda for long years. He served as the  Head of the Department of Dance and the Dean of the Faculty, from which position he retired in 1992. He has moulded hundreds of students over the years, and many of them were present in the auditorium for his recital. 
 
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Prof. Chandrasekhar and Jaya Chandrasekhar now run their own dance institution, Nrityashree, in Chennai.
 
He was awarded the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Bharatnatyam in 1993, by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama. He received the prestigious Kalidas Samman in 2008 and the Padma Bhushan in 2011. In 2016, he was honoured with the prestigious Fellowship of the Sangeet Natak Akademi.
 
An alumnus of the renowned Kalakshetra, where he trained under the legendary Rukmini Devi Arundale, Karaikkal Saradambal, K.N. Dandaydhapani Pillai and others, he has also received training classical music under teachers like Budulur Krishnamurthy Sastrigal and M.D. Ramanathan.
 
Chandrasekhar began his career as a dancer in 1947, at a time when there were very few male dancers in the country. He taught for some years at the Banaras Hindu University before joining M. S. University of Baroda and has, over the years, acquired tremendous respect for his accomplishments as a dancer, choreographer, researcher, musician, academician, composer and teacher.
 
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