Monday, August 13, 2012

19 families homeless after two buildings brought down in Navsari

Nineteen families in Navsari were left homeless after their three-storey residential building, which had tilted on Sunday afternoon, was brought down by civic authorities on Monday.
Pillars on the ground floor of the building, Raj Mahal Apartment's A-wing had caved in due to suspected cavity created while repairing of drainage system. The B-wing of the building near Sayaji Library area is also being brought down.
Officers at the spot informed that the trench dug up to repairing the drainage line was not covered properly which resulted in the problem. A rescue operation was carried out in the damaged B-wing by Navsari Nagarpalika and a team of Surat Municipal Corporation ( SMC).
The A-wing, which had tilted, was standing with the support of the adjoining building. After demolition of A-wing, it was found that the B-wing was also damaged badly and required to be brought down. The authorities are working on removal of debris of the A-wing.
So far, 10 families in the A-wing and nine from the B-wing have lost their houses.
"We are working on demolition of the B-wing and it too will be brought down to avoid damage to adjoining buildings. It is a threat to life of residents in the area. We are assessing damage to the neighbouring buildings too," said Harshad Patel, chief officer, Navsari Nagarpalika.
The rescued residents have been provided shelter at Prajapati Ashram while few have gone to stay with their relatives.
The local administration has arranged food and water for the rescued families.

Source: TOI

Monday, August 6, 2012

Gujarat co-op spurs EDI student to set up agri-mandi in Bihar

A non-descript but much successful agri-retail store run on the co-operative model for chickoo farmers in Navsari is driving a budding entrepreneur’s efforts to bring an agricultural produce platform for farmers in the backward regions of Champaran in Bihar.
The entrepreneur, Nagarjun Khushwaha, a 2010-12 batch graduate of the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI), is busy setting up a ‘mandi’ (agri-retail store) in Champaran to help provide an agri platform to farmers of around 25 villages. The idea struck him following his visit to the Amlasad VVK Sahakri Khedut Mandali Ltd in Navsari.
It should be noted that at present there are no government APMCs in Bihar for the farmers to buy or sell their produce in a cost-effective manner. Talking about his initiative, for which he has already invested Rs25 lakh, Khushwaha said, “The idea is to provide a platform to farmers to buy inputs like seeds and fertilizers and also a place where they can come together to sell their produce,” he said, adding that his business plan includes making farmers members of his mandi after payment of a fee.
“Members will get priority when it comes to sale of seeds and fertilizers. Eventually I also plan to provide equipment on hire to the farmers and again members will get a preference,” said Khushwaha. He said in backward districts like Champaran not many farmers can access the latest equipment for farming. “The mandi will help them provide it on rent. It will also give them a platform to sell their produce. There will also be a warehouse facility where members can store their produce,” said Khushwaha.
His mentor for the project, PG Makhija, who helped him conduct the primary survey for the business among others, said Khushwaha had researched well before going about his venture.
“It is unusual for students to do such intense field study before setting up a business. He went into minute details of things involved. While we were working on the project, the fact that Bihar lacked an APMC came up. We thought that Nagarjun’s business model should be scaled up to a private Mandi. Having understood the immense potential of the idea, he went for a detailed field study and perfected the business plan,” said Makhija, a senior visiting faculty at EDI.
At present, the former Yamaha employee who spent three years in Japan, is busy setting up the infrastructure for his Mandi, which will be inaugurated around September. He also plans to tie-up with fertiliser and seed companies to ensure best quality products for the members.

Runaway Navsari boy returns home

A 12 year old boy was reported missing from Navsari town. Mohammed Faiz had gone missing from his home at Dagaharod area on Saturday afternoon. His parents had approached the police for help.

But on Sunday evening the boy was found in is grandmothers place in Kahului area. After much persuasion the grandmother asked the boy to call home and inform his parents that he was in Ahmedabad.

The worried parents reached Ahmedabad and took Mohammed back home with them. Though there as a police complaint, senior investigators at Navsari town police state are determining as to why the boy ran away from his home.

"The boy returned home is what we are concerned about right now. Had he not called we were already exploring the possible kidnapping case," says a senior police official of the Navsari town police. 

Source: TOI

Monday, July 30, 2012

No skilled hands, sugar factories in South Gujarat go hi-tech

Faced with the perennial shortage of cane cutters, sugar mills in south Gujarat have started adopting hi-tech techniques for better harvesting.
In the last one-and-a-half-year, about 33 hi-tech cane harvester machines have been purchased by various sugar factories in the region to tide over the shortage of skilled hands. The cane cutters, mostly migrant labourers from the Dang and bordering Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, have stopped coming to far-flung areas as they are getting work easily in their native villages.
Sugar co-operatives claim that the dearth has been fuelled by central government's National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme ( NAREGA) coupled with unwillingness of the young generation of cane cutters to follow the footsteps of their elders. Against the average 100 tonnes sugarcane required for crushing in a day, the sugar factories are getting less than 60 tonnes. Factories claim to be suffering losses of Rs 4 lakh - Rs 5 lakh per hour for keeping the crushing equipment switched off.
If all the 17 sugar factories have to shut their crushing equipment for an average of two hours per day, the total losses would be around Rs 1.70 crore per day.
"There is no other option left with the sugar co-operatives and cane farmers but to go for hi-tech cane harvesting instead of depending on cane cutters," president, Federation of Gujarat State Co-operative Sugar Factories (FGSCSF), Mansinh Patel said.
Patel said Gujarat contributes about 6 to 7 per cent in total sugar production in the country. Gujarat has about 17 sugar factories - 15 sugar factories in south Gujarat region and two in Saurashtra, where about 126 lakh tonnes of sugarcane is crushed in the entire season yielding sugar production of 12.6 lakh tonnes.
Each of the sugar factories in the region employ about 3,500 to 15,000 cane cutting workers for cutting lakhs of tonnes of sugarcane.
"If the annual sugar production of a sugar factory is 10,000 tones, about 17-20 lakh tonnes of sugarcane is required for crushing. An automatic harvesting machine costs Rs 1 crore and the output is about 40 to 50 tonnes per hour, which we cannot get manually," an office-bearer of Madhi Sugar Co-operative, which is facing shortage of about 4,000 workers out of the total requirement of 10,000 cane cutting workers, said.
Chandan Mishra, assistant manager at New Holland Fiat (India) Private Limited, supplier of mechanized sugarcane harvesting machine in south Gujarat, said, "The demand for mechanized harvesting machines is increasing from the sugarcane belt of south Gujarat. We have signed a memorandum of understanding with Navsari Agriculture University (NAU) for imparting technical knowledge to students wanting to operate the machine."

Source: TOI

It seems there are just clouds in store for south Gujarat. Despite heavy build up of clouds on Sunday, the districts like Surat, Valsad, Navsari and Dang received an average of 2mm rainfall with most of the talukas remaining dry.

Flood control department in the city said that only Kamrej taluka received 3mm rainfall on Sunday with rest of the talukas including Surat city remaining dry. The situation is same in Navsari and Valsad districts with the talukas like Valsad, Pardi, Umbergaon, Dharampur, Kaprada in Valsad district receiving rainfall between 3mm and 15mm and the talukas like Navsari, Jalalpore, Gandevi and Vansda receiving between 1 mm and 2mm rainfall on Sunday.

Kaprada taluka of Valsad district and Saputara and Waghai in Dang district considered to be the Cherrapunji of Gujarat, are the worst-hit due to delayed monsoon. These talukas have seen 40 per cent less rains this year compared to the same period last year.

However, rain gods did smile on tribal-dominated talukas in Tapi district since Saturday night following heavy rains. The talukas such as Vyara received 342mm rainfall followed by 295mm in Valod, 318mm in Songadh, 188mm in Uchhal and 177mm in Nizar.

Surat district has remained 15 per cent rain deficient till date when compared to the same period last year. Four of the five talukas in Navsari district, too, are deficient by 15 per cent to 20 per cent, whereas Valsad district remained 10 per cent deficient till date.

Meanwhile, Ukai reservoir has started getting water from the upstream of Tapi river basin in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh following the heavy rains in the past 72 hours. The water level in the reservoir which was below 310 feet three days ago has increased at 313 feet on Sunday.

Official sources said that the dam is receiving good amount of water from the upstream with the release of 1 lakh cusecs water from the Hathnoor dam since Saturday. Ukai dam authorities recorded inflow of 17,000 cusecs of water at 10 am and the dam levels were recorded at 313.16 feet.

With the monsoon still weak, there is a fear of water shortage if the dam doesn't get filled up to its rule level of 331 feet by August-end. During the last few years it is observed that by the end of July, dam levels reach 325 feet and by August end they reach the rule level of 331 feet.

However, this year due to lack of good rain in the upstream basin of Tapi river, water was not received in sufficient quantity till date.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Lepto claims one more in south Gujarat

A 40-year-old woman from Zakhari village of Tapi district has become the latest casualty to leptospirosis in south Gujarat, taking the toll to four in the region in this monsoon season. Lata Gamit had been admitted in New Civil Hospital on July 21. One each patient from Surat and Navsari districts have been reported as infected by the disease in the past 24 hours. This has taken the number of leptospirosis patients to 28 in south Gujarat.
Sukha Rathod,42, from Mohini village of Choryasi taluka of Surat district has been admitted in New Civil Hospital's special ward for leptospirosis patients. His condition is stable. Raju Halpati, 30, of Tavdi village of Jalalpore taluka of Navsari district has been admitted in Navsari Civil Hospital for treatment of leptospirosis.
Of the 28 patients, eight are from Surat district, 14 from Tapi district and six from Navsari district. Two of the persons who lost their lives belonged to Tapi district where as the other victims were from Surat and Navsari districts.
Every year over 100 people lose their lives to the disease which is primarily caused by the rats mostly to sugarcane workers who work in waterlogged fields in bare feet.

Source: TOI

Ukai dam levels rise by 8 feet in 48 hours

SURAT: With the fears of draught looming large for the first time in last decade over South Gujarat due to scanty rains till now, there is good news for the farmer community of Surat, Navsari and Tapi District.

Following good amount of rains in upstream of Tapi river basin in Maharastra and MP during last 72 hours, Hathnoor dam authorities released large amount of water paving the way for filling up process of Ukai dam. Sk Mishra, Officer in-charge of Central Water commission( CWC) in the area said, " Ukai received 145MCm or nearly 14.20 lakh cusecs of water in 12 hours ending 10 am in the morning and will receive another 75 MCM or 7 lakh Cusecs of water by 10 pm on the night of Thursday."

This will swell the levels of Ukai reservoir to nearly 312 feet , a rise of nearly 8 feet in 48 hours. Ukai dam authorities recorded inflow of 1,10,315 cusecs of water at 10 am and the dam levels were recorded at 310.91 feet. An officer said, " By 10 pm tonight we will cross 312 feet."

With the monsoon not bringing the rains as it should, there is a fear of water shortage if the dam doesn't get filled up to its rule level of 331 feet by August end.

During the last few years it is observed that by the end of July, dam levels reach to 325 feet and by August end they reach the rule level of 331 feet. However this year due to lack of good rain in the upstream basin of Tapi river; water was not received in sufficient quantity till date. This is the first big influx of water in the reservoir this season and has kindled the hope of revival for the region as irrigation of Surat, Tapi and major parts of Navsari district depend on Ukai water. It is also the only potable water source of water for the population of nearly 60 lakh people living in Surat city and nearby areas of the district.

The region is nearly 25 per cent deficient till date in terms of rain fall.