The Indian Express | 3 days ago | 22-09-2022 | 03:50 am
More than 740 persons were arrested and drugs worth Rs 6,500 crore were seized by the state police in the last year, Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi told the Gujarat assembly Wednesday. The minister stated this even as he noted that the inclusion of drug-related offences under the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GUJCTOC) Bill required further discussion.On Wednesday, the first day of the two-day Assembly session, the amended GUJCTOC Bill, which dropped gambling as an offence under the Act, was unanimously passed. Two words—“terrorist act” and “gambling”—have been dropped from certain sections of the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Act, 2015. “Under Section 2 (h), the terrorist act has been defined. This is being duplicated in Section 2 (e). So, we are removing the word “terrorist act” from 2(e). We are not removing any action against terror (contained in the Act),” the minister told the House.He said the amendments were to “make certain provisions more meaningful and to make them easy to interpret so that no provisions are misinterpreted during implementation of the said Act, resulting in unnecessary hassle to the persons in state of Gujarat.”“Till now, no gambling case has been registered under GUJCTOC. Also, we already have a provision of punishment of less than three years imprisonment for gambling and in GUJCTOC, we can admit cases where punishment is more than three years. So, we have removed the word gambling from this,” he said, noting that gambling was being removed from Section 2(e).Sanghavi’s statements came as Congress MLAs proposed adding drug-related offences, extortion, land-grabbing, contract killings, economic offences, cyber crimes and human trafficking for prostition under the ambit of the Act. “We will fully discuss if drugs need to be included in GujCTOC, but none of the persons arrested in the last one year have been able to get out of custody,” Sanghavi said noting that the Gujarat Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) has made drug seizures not only in the state but also worked on joint efforts with central agencies in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Kolkata.Talking about the easy availability of drugs in Ahmedabad, Congress MLA Virji Thummar implored the minister to visit Sindhu Bhavan Road (in Ahmedabad city) on a Sunday. While Congress MLA Gyasuddin Sheikh pointed out drugs were easily available in pan shops and in pan masala pouches, MLA Baldev Thakor pointed out the alleged illegal activities at some spas and beauty parlours.The amended Bill seeks to replace The Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (Amendment) Ordinance, 2022 that was promulgated when the House was not in session. It defines “organised crime” as “any continuing unlawful activity, including extortion, land-grabbing, contract-killing, economic offences, cyber crimes having severe consequences, running large-scale gambling rackets, human-trafficking racket for prostitution or ransom by an individual, singly or jointly, either as a member of an organised crime syndicate or on behalf of such syndicate, by use of violence or threat of violence or intimidation or coercion or other unlawful means.”The Bill states that the accused shall not be granted bail if it is noticed by the Special Court that he was on bail in an offence under this Act on the date of the offence in question.“If any person on behalf of a member of an organised crime syndicate is, or at any time after the commencement of the Act, has been in possession of movable or immovable property which he cannot satisfactorily account for, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than three years but which may extend to imprisonment for 10 years and shall also be liable to fine which shall not be less than Rs one lakh and such property shall also be liable for attachment and forfeiture,” it added.Meanwhile, strict implementation of GUJCTOC has helped neutralise gangs in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Patan and Saurashtra, said Sanghavi.The minister named the gangs that were dealt with under GUJCTOC. These include the Zilia gang of Patan, Vichiya gang of Saurashtra, Asif Tomato and Sajid Kothari Gangs of Surat, Nazir Vora gang of Ahmedabad and Aslam Bodia Gang of Vadodara. While arms and copies of land documents were recovered from Zilia Gang of Patan, the Sajid Kothari Gang had constructed illegally on government land that was pulled down, the minister added.
AHMEDABAD: Truck transporters are demanding that the government reduce the toll charged for roads where the concession period has ended, or costs have been recovered, in accordance with the rules. The All India Motor Transport Congress has said that six toll roads between Ahmedabad and Mumbai are in the category where the toll must now be only 40% according to the rules, but 100% is still being charged. The association said they will take a decision on an agitation in a meeting on October 10. Akhil Gujarat Truck Transport Association executive president Mukesh Dave said, "Earlier, toll made up were about 3% of our costs but has increased to between 12% and 20% for the past few years. In 2013, the central government announced that any concessionaire who has built roads on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) model, will give the road back to the government once its concession period is over and from then only maintenance cost will be charged, which will be 40% of the original toll. However, on the Vadodara-Mumbai national highway, there are six toll roads, whose concession period is over, and the developer has handed over the roads to the government but there is still no reduction in the toll tax." He said that a truck currently pays about Rs 5,500 in toll for a return trip between Ahmedabad and Mumbai and if the government follows the 40% rule, the cost will come down to Rs 2,000. The association has written to various authorities, the Union highways minister Nitin Gadkari and the Gujarat chief minister's office, also the issue has not been resolved. According to the association, the private concessionaire of the Halol-Vadodara and Adalaj-Mehsana roads spent a total of Rs 513 crore on these roads and collected around Rs 2,200 crore and sold its stake for around Rs 760 crore and still wants to extend the toll collection duration by 10 years. All India Motor Transport Congress president Amritlal Madan said there are several highways across the country where higher toll is being paid despite the concession period having ended. "We are going to hold a meeting on October 10 in Mumbai to decide our course of action. If our demands are not fulfilled, we will stop our trucks at toll plazas with the demand to pay only 40% of the toll," he said.
HYDERABAD: After making a political entry into Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal, Gujarat and other states, Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen has decided to foray into Congress-ruled Rajasthan. Making his intentions clear, Owaisi has already started addressing public meetings in the state. The AIMIM has not contested any election in Rajasthan so far and has set up a state unit of the party with the task of preparing for the December 2023 elections to the 200-member state assembly. Analysts said the AIMIM's debut into Rajasthan has potential to make a dent into the electoral prospects of Congress as Muslims have been a traditional vote-bank of the grand old party in the desert state. About 40 constituencies have a sizeable Muslim population. "The AIMIM wants to become a major voice of Muslims, Dalits, STs and the downtrodden in Rajasthan. The recent two-day visit of Owaisi to Jaipur and nearby districts which have high Muslim population was successful with huge response from the people," said a senior AIMIM leader. As per the 2011 census, there are over 62.15 lakh Muslims in Rajasthan comprising 9.1% of the state's population. In proportion to the population, there should be at least 18-20 Muslims legislators in the state but only eight have made it to the assembly in the 2018, including seven from Congress and one from BSP. During his visit to Rajasthan, Owaisi said the voice of Muslim MLAs was not being heard and that even the budget for minorities welfare in the state was less than 100 crore though the population of Muslims is over 62 lakh.
India has told Japan that tenders for electrical and signalling systems, as well as the rolling stock, for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor should be floated without delay as land issues faced by the project appear to have been resolved.Sources said that Japan and India have agreed to put a cap on the cost of the systems and rolling stock, and that if the prices for these quoted by Japanese companies go beyond that cap, the balance will be footed by the Japanese side, outside the scope of the loan agreement for the project.This puts to rest a longstanding impasse that the project has faced, with prices for many of the critical items to be supplied by Japanese companies indicated to be up to 90 per cent higher than project consultants’ estimates.The Japanese government’s Japan International Cooperation Agency is covering 80 per cent of the cost of the bullet train project with a soft loan to India that compels the project to source critical components only from Japanese suppliers. The project is expected to cost Rs 1.6 lakh crore.Officials estimate that the Gujarat portion of the corridor will be fully operational by 2027, followed by the Maharashtra portion by 2029.“Since there is a cap agreed by both parties, and since civil works are now being executed at a fast pace, there is no roadblock to floating the systems tenders for the Japanese firms,” a source said.In the sixth meeting of the Joint Working Group for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Project, the Indian side communicated to their Japanese counterparts that the tenders for the systems, especially the electricals and signalling, should be awarded by December-March, it was learnt.The meeting, held earlier this month, was co-chaired by V K Tripathi, the chairman and CEO of the Railway Board, and Satoshi Suzuki, the Japanese ambassador.In a major sign that the project may finally be able to put its land-related troubles in Maharashtra behind it, the National High Speed Rail Corporation, the implementing agency of the project, on Friday floated the tender for the 21-km tunnel in the state. Seven kilometres of the tunnel will be under the sea.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxThe Indian Express had last month reported that the project was getting its land-acquisition issues sorted out under the new government in Maharashtra.The tunnel is the most complex piece of civil engineering work in the 502-km corridor. The tender for the tunnel is open to global competition, with both Japanese and Indian companies allowed to tie up with other international players to make bids.Another area of concern for the project was the procurement of the rolling stock — the actual train sets. As per Japan, only Kawasaki and Hitachi are eligible to supply the rolling stock. Sources said the Indian side had wanted to avoid a situation where both the companies jointly submit a bid, which could raise the price.However, with a price cap being agreed by both sides, this concern has been alleviated.
AHMEDABAD: The city on Saturday reported 54 new Covid cases, taking the number of active cases to 238. Across Gujarat, 140 new cases were recorded, and active cases reached 1,002. Gandhinagar district recorded one Covi death. Two patients are on ventilators. Of the 33 districts, five have no active cases. Gujarat in 24 hours administered 544 first doses and 1,572 second doses of vaccines.
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate Phase-1 of the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar Metro rail on September 30, the Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety (CMRS) has asked for a third party audit — apart from 90 other conditions to be met — to attest the structural strength and quality of tunnel segments and viaduct and piers of elevated section in the routes to be inaugurated. The CMRS also sought a technical audit of the Tunnel Ventilation System in the underground section of the Metro. It pointed out “deficiencies” such as lack of safeguard to piers against possible train derailment in a section that flies over a railway line, and expressed concern over the time taken in the underground section for evacuation of passengers, during mock drills.During inspections in August and September 2022, CMRS had spotted a number of “deficiencies” that have a direct bearing on the safety of operations and had asked the Gujarat Metro Rail Corporation (GMRC) to take “rectification measures”.The GMRC responded in September 14-15 saying the issues were sorted and that the project was safe for operations. However, the authorisation letter provided to GMRC earlier this week for the opening of Ahmedabad Metro gave a conditional authorisation, including restricting speed to as low as 45 kilometre per hour (kmph) in certain sections. The maximum speed of a metro rail is 80 kmph.Authorisation to operate the Metro to ferry people has been given separately for fully elevated North-South corridor and the East-West corridor that has both elevated and underground sections. A 6.5-kilometre route of the Ahmedabad Metro has been operational on East-West Corridor from March 2019. The PM will inaugurate the remaining 13.3-km stretch of Phase-1 connecting Thaltej and Vastral on the East-West corridor and the 18.83-km stretch on the APMC-Motera route that is part of the North-South corridor. The Gujarat government announced Saturday that both routes would be thrown open to public two days after the inauguration, which would coincide with Gandhi Jayanti. The CMRS authorisation letter, which was seen by The Indian Express, states that the North-South Corridor passes through a “vulnerable zone” adjacent to an Indian Railway line (that connects Ahmedabad to Bhavnagar), and “no special protection” has been provided to safe-guard metro piers from the impact of a possible derailment that might occur on railway lines below. Imposing a speed restriction of 60 kmph between Paldi and Old High Court stations, CMRS stated that “Metro should take needful safety measures such as suitably designed protection wall for piers and guard rail on railway track after carrying out risk analysis through NIT/IIT to ensure safety of metro trains on priority”.The CMRS pointed out that during inspection of the North-South corridor on September 2-3, it had noticed “deficiencies”, including “cracks” in piers and viaducts. “For long term stability and safety, it is advised to confirm adequacy of structural strength and quality of viaduct and piers by getting a third party audit done from IIT in three months time,” the authorisation letter stated.In the East-West Corridor, the CMRS pointed out that apart from Vodafone, there was no mobile network coverage inside the tunnel and the underground stations. “There should be continuous communication in the train inside the tunnel,” it has said.It also sought a third party audit for steel girders, for validating the design and quality of work. CMRS observed that “steel girders of non-standard span” were used at a number of locations on the metro route and “some bolts were seen missing or loose in splice and bracings”.The safety body also observed quality issues on the Sabarmati OWG (Open Web Girder) bridge and said Metro should get the deficiencies rectified and get it certified from RITES within a month. Till then, a speed limit of 60 kmph has been imposed on this bridge that passes over seven railway tracks of Indian Railways.The body also pointed out that Sabarmati Metro station was not offered for inspection and the sanction for this needed to be taken separately before opening it to public use. CMRS directed the station to be permanently closed and asked the trains to skip the station. This is an important station as it will connect metro passengers to the under construction multi-modal hub at Sabarmati which will serve passengers of bullet train, Indian Railways and BRTS.It also pointed out malfunctioning Platform Screen Doors or PSD doors at metro stations and asked director systems to certify the quality of the items. It also pointed out that some of the signalling equipment were old as it was of 2018 built-date. “This is not acceptable in new metro works and should be replaced,” the letter stated.In the East-West corridor, the CMRS noted “hair-breath cracks in tunnel segments and seepage marks” in the underground section, besides cracks, exposed reinforcements, casting errors, etc., in piers, viaducts and Sabarmati bridge.A speed limit of 60 kmph has been imposed on Sabarmati bridge, which CMRS stated has casting errors in six spans and other issues. “These shall be rectified in one month and a third party audit done through RITES to confirm structural safety,” stated the stiplulations.For the East-West Corridor, CMRS stated the Tunnel Ventilation System for the underground section needed improvement/upgradation. It sought a technical audit of the tunnel ventilation system and a fire safety clearance from the fire department. CMRS also advised a third party quality audit to confirm structural strength and quality of viaduct, piers and tunnel segments in three months’ time.CMRS inspected this corridor between Apparel Park and Thaltej stations on August 20-22 and September 4. The 6.5-kilometre stretch between Vastral Gam to Apparel Park is already operational. During the inspection, it noticed a “leaning” of one of the piers at Commerce Six roads-Gujarat University section. Imposing a 45-kmph speed restriction on this segment, the GMRC has advised remedial measures and a third party audit for examining the safety and certification of the pier.Like the Sabarmati station, the underground Kankaria East station was not offered for inspection and CMRS has asked trains to skip this station as well.CMRS also asked the GMRC to rectify malfunctioning lifts and PSD doors and install branded water coolers. The groundwork for Ahmedabad Metro — for which DPRs were drawn and redrawn since 2005 — began in March 2015. After seven years of construction, the Phase-1 of the project consisting of a little over 40 kilometres will be fully launched for commercial operations later this month.SS Rathore, Managing Director of GMRC, which is a joint venture of the Gujarat government and Government of India, said, “Every authorisation letter from CMRS is with clauses. Every Metro project gets it with conditions. They are directions and standard conditions that are put. These are standard procedures.”Not willing to discuss the conditions laid out by CMRS, Rathore said,“Some of these conditions are security related and I won’t be able to discuss it with you.” When asked about the third-party audits for reassessing the safety and structural quality of the elevated and underground corridors, Rathore said, “They had sought it even for the first 6.5 kilometres and we had done an audit through IIT three months after the operations began.” The second phase of the Metro project will connect the state capital Gandhinagar with Ahmedabad, which will essentially be the expansion of the first phase. This phase will have two corridors, including 22.8 km from Motera Stadium to Mahatma Mandir, having 20 stations and a 5.4-km route from the Gujarat National Law University to GIFT City having two stations. The entire Phase-II will be on an elevated route.