Prisoners escape from Amreli sub-jail by drilling hole in toilet

Six detainees lodged in Amreli sub-jail in Gujarat escaped last night after making a hole out of the toilet, police said today.

According to Amreli Police control room, the detainees, identified as Chhagan Harji, Magan Harji, Jagan Mohan, Virar Velji, Sagar Hussain and Kalio Magan, ran away late last night.

They were in the jail for various crimes such as robbery, rape and theft, the police said.

A high alert has been sounded in the Amreli district and a search has been launched to nab them, they added.


6 workers injured in factory blast in Vapi, Gujarat

At least six workers were injured in an explosion at a chemical factory at a Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) industrial estate at Vapi in Valsad district of Gujarat early today, police said.

Valsad Superintendent of Police D B Vaghela told UNI that the factory officials saidthat the explosion occurred due to the rupturing of a safety valve. About six workers were present when the blast occurred.

Chemical experts entered the premises of Arti chemical factory to assess the situation. One more worker was suspected to be trapped, but it could be ascertained only after clearing the debris, he said.

The factory roof was blown off in the explosion, which occurred around 0515 hrs, Mr Vaghela added.


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.


L&T, Mitsubishi JV inaugurates power equipment manufacturing facility at Hazira

A joint venture of engineering and construction major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) of Japan inaugurated the country's first private sector facilities for the manufacture of supercritical boilers and turbine generators at Hazira near Surat in Gujarat today.

The inaugural function of the supercritical boilder facility was attended by Union Minister of Heavy Industry and Public Enterprises Vilasrao Deshmukh, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Minister of State for Power Bharatsinh Solanki.

Later in the day, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi attended the inaugural function of the facility for supercritical turbine generators.

A press release from L&T said supercritical technology for coal-fired power plants was globally recognized as one of the most eco-friendly solutions to power generation.

The technology ensures higher fuel efficiency leading to higher plant efficiency. Carbon emissions are reduced by as much as 5%, it said.

The L&T-MHI facilities are among the largest of their kind in the world, with a present annual capacity of manufacturing 5,000 MW of equipment, to be expanded to 6,000 MW by 2012, it said.

"We are proud to be the first private sector company to set up such a facility in India. It is imperative that India builds domestic capacity for such critical equipment for the power sector. The L&T-MHI facilities are a step in that direction. It is a world class facility that will produce world class products," Mr. A. M. Naik, Chairman and Managing Director, L&T, said.

Mr. Hideaki Omiya, President MHI, said, "Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is one of the leading companies in the world with proven designs for high-capacity super-critical boilers and turbine generators. MHI’s boilers and turbine generators are among the world’s best for supercritical ratings of 660 MW and above. MHI’s boilers and turbine generators have established worldwide working references spanning over 25 years. In India, we see a nation that is poised to take a strategic position in international business in the coming years. And in L&T, we have a company which has the drive, ambition and ability to shape that dream to reality. Our partnership with L&T for this venture essentially is all about the coming together of two organizations that are world leaders in engineering excellence as well as committed to the cause of reducing the environmental burden."


Minor quake recorded in Gujarat's Kutch region

An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.1 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Kutch region of Gujarat tonight, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

The tremor, which had its epicentre at latitude 23.3 degrees North and longitude 70.4 degrees East, occurred at 2040 hours today at a depth of 10 km, it said.


Congress leaders in Gujarat resolve to sink their differences

Leaders of the faction-ridden Gujarat Congress today resolved to sink their differences and work towards strengthening the party in the state after its poor performance in the recent elections to municipal bodies and bye-elections to the legislative assembly.

Former Deputy Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Narhari Amin held a meeting at his farm house with the agenda of uniting various groups of Gujarat Congress with the goal to defeat the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2012 assembly election, party sources said.

Confirming the meeting, Mr Siddharth Patel, President, Gujarat Pradesh Congres Committee told UNI, "It is our New Year resolution. All senior leaders were present in the meeting and decided to sink their differences and strengthen the party base in the state."

Senior Congress leaders including Leader of Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil, former Union Textiles Minister Shankersinh Vaghela, Arjun Modhvadia were present in the meeting and took stock of the party's situation in the state.

The Congress was bulldozed by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP in the recent elections to civic bodies as well as by-elections to state legislative assembly. The BJP even made a dent in the traditional Congress bastion taking advantage of infighting in Congress and the Modi wave.


NTC sells two plots of closed mills in Gujarat for Rs 145.93 crore

The public sector National Textiles Corporation (NTC) has sold two plots of land, belonging to closed textile mills, in Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar in Gujarat for a combined price of Rs 145.93 crore against a total reserve price of Rs 68.74 crore.

The plots were sold in a three-day e-auction that ended at 11 pm yesterday, a press release from NTC said here today.

Local firm Ahmedabad Advance Mills Ltd bagged the coveted 33,222 sq metre plot of the closed New Manek Chowk Textile Mills in Ahmedabad for Rs 118.40 crore, nearly 2.5 times higher than the reserve price of Rs 41.27 crore.

Lok Prakashan Ltd grabbed the 61,040 sq metre plot belonging to the closed Mahalaxmi Textile Mills at Bhavnagar for a price of Rs 27.53 crore against the reserve price of Rs 27.47 crore.

The auction for the two plots began at 10 am on December 29. The bidding for the Ahmedabad plot finally closed only six after the scheduled close of 5 pm due to the provision of auto-extension, the release said.

In the case of the Ahmedabad plot, the second highest bid was by Ajmera Realty at Rs 118.30 crore.

Altogether 21 participants were in the fray for the plot which also has a bungalow with a 400 sq mts built-up area.

In the case of the Bhavnagar property, the bidding was subdued for two days with the three participants lying low throughout. Gujarat-based Lok Prakashan Ltd made the all important bid on the final day at Rs 27.53 crore against the reserve price of Rs 27.47 crore and clinched the issue in its favour.

"The whole NTC family is extremely happy to witness the huge impact the e-auction could make this time, as in the previous cases. We have proved it again that it is the finest option to sell the property by a Government-owned company. NTC has set the trend and has its strategies clearly defined and they are working as per the plan," NTC Chairman and the Managing Director K Ramachandran Pillai said.

"We were expecting a good response and prices and what we got are the best for the two properties. The company has about 1,300 acres of land in various cities, such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Indore, Karnataka and Coimbatore. The NTC also intends to sell around 30 acres of Minerva Mills’ land in Bangalore through an e-auction in the near future," he said.

This is the third auction by the NTC after it took the e-route to sell off its surplus lands. In the first e-auction held from July 29, the company garnered Rs 474 crore for the 2.3-acre Poddar Mill land in Mumbai, against the reserve price of Rs 250 crore.

Likewise, the 8.3 acre land of Bharat Textile Mills at Worli in Mumbai was sold for a whopping Rs 1,505 crore against the reserve price of Rs 750 crore, in the second round of online auction from August 4 to 6.

The lands of the closed mills are being sold to support its ongoing modernisation-cum-revival package worth Rs 9,102 crore for 24 mills. The modernisation of 18 mills has been completed and they are now generating profits. Likewise, the NTC has also come out of the red through the comprehensive package, the release added.


NTC begins e-auction of plots in Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar

The three-day e-auction by the public sector National Textile Corporation (NTC) to sell off the plots of two of its closed mills at Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar in Gujarat got off to a start today.

The online auction for the 33,222 sq mts plot of the New Manekchowk Textile Mills in Ahmedabad began at 10 am with a reserve price of Rs 41.27 crore and 21 bidders in the fray.

After hours of bidding, the price for the plot, which also has a bungalow with 400 sq mtrs of built-up area, shot up to Rs 90.31 crore at 5.30 pm.

The 61,040 sq mts of land belonging to the closed Mahalaxmi Textile Mills at Bhavnagar started with a reserve price of Rs 27.47 crore and three participants. However, the day did not yield any fresh bidding so far.

The e-auction, third by the NTC this year, will conclude at 5 pm on December 31. However, it can go beyond the deadline because of the auto-extension option.

"One of the best aspects of the e-auction is that the bidders get multiple opportunities to secure a plot, unlike in the manual tender. Thus it also ensures the best price for the seller. Once again, the better sides of e-auction are reaffirmed in our latest online bidding today," NTC Chairman and the Managing Director K Ramachandran Pillai said.

NTC, which has made a turn-around in the recent past to emerge as a profitable entity with a comprehensive modernisation-cum-revival plan approved by the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR), launched the e-auction of plots in July-August this year, when it put land of closed mills in Mumbai, Bangalore and Indore on sale.

The company has already announced the sale of more properties of its closed mills to part-finance the revival package worth Rs 9102 crore for 24 mills. The modernisation of 18 mills has been completed and the mills are generating profits now.

The company has about 1,300 acres of land in various places like Mumbai, Bangalore, Indore, Karnataka and Coimbatore. NTC also intends to sell 30 acres of land of Minerva Mills, Bangalore through e-auction in the near future, a press release from the company added.


Shoreline study maps of Gujarat, Puduchery launched

Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh launched the shoreline study maps of Gujarat and Puducherry, which are approved by the respective state governments.

"The coastline of India is undergoing changes due to various anthropogenic and natural interventions. Most of the shoreline changes are on account of the structures which have been developed/constructed along the foreshore of the country," Mr Ramesh said.

"Several of these developments are not compatible with the dynamic nature of the shoreline," he said.

The Prof. M. S. Swaminathan Committee in its report last year had recommended a moratorium on all foreshore developmental activities till such time as a detailed study is not undertaken for the entire coastline.

Accordingly, a moratorium on tourism was imposed on 21 August, 2009 and 3November, 2009. Based on a report submitted by Integrated Coastal and Marine Area Management (ICMAM) no development was permitted in the areas identified as "high eroding sites" and areas along ecological sensitive areas.

The shoreline study was assigned to the Institute for Ocean Management (IOM), Chennai. The maps for Orissa and Tamil Nadu are waiting for the state governments’ approval.

These maps will be made available on the website of the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management

A dedicated website for documentation and dissemination of the information to the public and all stakeholders with regard to the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project was also launched today.

It was initiated with the assistance of the World Bank including the activities relating to coastal zone management in the country. The Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM) set up this website which will provide all information relating to the project that is being implemented by SICOM and the State Project Management Units of Orissa, West Bengal and Gujarat including the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management.

The new website will act as a communication channel for information dissemination on all activities pertaining to Integrated Coastal Zone Management taken up by SICOM to all the stakeholders, including the general public, serve as the showcase of the various ICZM projects executed by National Project Management Unit, State Project Management Unit and Project Executing Agencies and create a community platform for active interaction between SICOM and the stakeholders. Public can actively contribute ideas, opinions, views on activities related to ICZM projects.The website contains grievances recording and redressal mechanism and contact numbers of SICOM (011 4739 77 77) and West Bengal (1800 345 2437).

Survey of India has submitted inception report on mapping, delineation and demarcation of the hazard line along India’s coast. The inception report includes Digital Elevation Model of 0.5 meter, contour lines of 0.5 metres elevation, ortho rectified photographs in 1:10,000 scales, hazard line marked down on ortho rectified prints, hazard line demarcated on the ground villages boundaries with name, village roads. Other features would include river, lakes, sea, railway lines, channels, and so on.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on the 12 May, 2010 between the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and Survey of India (Department of Science and Technology), for this purpose. This initiative of the MoEF forms a critical part of its responsibilities vis-a-vis planning and management of the country’s coastal zone. The total cost of the project is Rs.125 crores. This will include the collection and presentation of data identifying flood lines over the last 40 years (which includes sea level rise impacts), and a prediction of erosions to take place over the next 100 years.

This process involves Digital Aerial Photography at 9cm GSD and photogrammetric surveys and preparation digital terrain model at 0.5m for the entire mainland coast; collection of historical tide gauge data and its analysis to determine 100years flood levels; analysis of maps and satellite imagery/Aerial Ortho imagery since, 1967 to predict the erosion line over the next 100years; preparation of composite maps, showing the hazard line on the digital data and Transfer of the hazard line to topographic maps for public dissemination. Once the hazard line is delineated, ground markers will be constructed. This is important as the revenue maps used for local planning purposes are not comparable to topographic maps, an official press release added.


Gujarat HC grants bail to accused in Sohrabuddin encounter case

The Gujarat High Court yesterday granted conditional bail to Raju Jeerawala, an accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case of 2005.

While granting the bail, Justice Z K Saiyad, ordered Jeerawala, brother of a BJP corporator of Sabarmati area, to furnish a personal bond of Rs 100,000 and further ordered him not to enter the limits of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar till further orders.

Jeerawala is the owner of Arham Farmhouse on the outskirts of the city, where Sohrabuddin and his wife, Kausar Bi, were allegedly kept by the Gujarat police before they were killed.

Earlier, in his bail application, Jeerawala had submitted before the court that, in the first chargesheet in the case filed by the State CID, he was shown as a witness.

Sohrabuddin, who was detained along with his wife, was killed in an alleged fake encounter on the outskits of the city in November 2005. Kausar Bi was also later eliminated, while another eyewitness to their detention, Tulsiram Prajapati, was also killed in another alleged staged encounter near Ambaji on Gujarat-Rajasthan border in 2006.



4 Ahmedabad teachers sent to judicial custody in harassment case

A metropolitan court here has remanded to judicial custody four college lecturers who were arrested for sexual harassment of a lady colleague in a city college.

Police produced the four lecturers yesterday before Metropolitan Magistrate V J Kalotra, who rejected their bail plea and sent them to judicial custody.

The lecturers were arrested by police after a lady lecturer lodged a complaint, accusing them of sexual harassment.

According to Kalupur police, the woman, working in a college in the walled city, had lodged a complaint against the four male colleagues and accused them of passing lewd remarks against her and inflicting sexual harassment.


Put Ahmedabad on global map, Modi tells new councillors

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has urged people's representatives to rise above political considerations and work as a team to put Ahmedabad on the global map.

Inaugurating a three-day training camp for the newly elected councillors of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation here yesterday, he urged them to develop Ahmedabad as a model city on all fronts and make it a slum-free city.

He told them that their five-year tenure was an opportunity for them to change the face of the city. If all the 192 councillors could tune their work on the same note, residents of the city would see a symphony of growth, he said.

"Working for the good of people and of the state should be the only aim, no matter what party you are coming from", he said.

Mr Modi said Ahmedabad could easily shape up to global standards and stressed the need for priority to cleanliness.


Minor quake jolts Kutch region of Gujarat

An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, shook the Kutch region of Gujarat in the early hours today, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

The quake occurred at 0012 hours and had its epicentre at 23.4 N latitude and 70.0 E longitutde, the department added in a statement.


Indian armed forces conduct largest ever amphibious exercises in Gujarat


The Indian Army, Navy and Air Force today jointly conducted their largest-ever amphibious exercise, codenamed "Exercise Tropex-2009", on the Madhavpur beach in Gujarat.

Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute Of Technology, Surat

Established as Regional Engineering College in June 1961, now renamed as National Institute of Technology,with status of Deemed University.

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