The Indian Express | 5 days ago | 25-11-2022 | 10:35 pm
MOST BJP workers accompanying Amit Popatlal Shah, 63, the former mayor of Ahmedabad, struggle to match his energy and fast pace of walking, as the current chief of the Ahmedabad BJP unit hits the campaign trail across the Ellisbridge Assembly constituency. Shah is adamant the AAP won’t make a dent at any of Ahmedabad city’s 16 Assembly seats. He is also confident of personally winning by over 80,000 votes. Once elected, he has vowed to resolve all disputes related to the Disturbed Areas Act in the Paldi area of his constituency.At a Navrangpura rally on November 23, the second of the day for Shah in which he and his entourage covered nearly four kilometres on foot across residential societies as part of his pre-poll outreach, the public reception was mixed, often lukewarm. At times, Shah could be seen waving at empty balconies, with intrigued shopkeepers and bystanders reluctantly waving back, that too, intermittently.At New Asmita Apartment, past the Commerce Six Roads Metro station, a resident angrily shooed away Shah and his entourage of BJP workers and dhol players, making evident his displeasure with the cacophony they were making. “Perhaps someone is sick at their home, so they are getting disturbed by the noise,” added a BJP worker sheepishly, even as Shah quickly apologised and made a U-turn from the society.“Before elections, it is important to make oneself visible among the public. I’m walking 18,000 steps every day and even after the election, I’ll keep my jan sampark going on Sundays. We have committed voters and I feel it’s necessary to meet them individually at their homes to build the connection. You see, we’re distributing pamphlets, because voters should know about my candidature, and that I had visited their homes. As a corporator, I would make it a point to share booklets of the work I have got done through the year, every year. The public should know what their elected representative is doing for them,” Shah told The Indian Express.At Dev Apartments, sexagenarian Arunaben Shah, along with other ladies, accost Shah as soon as he enters the society with his team. “Men often urinate on the side of the road opposite our society gate. We had also complained to Rakeshbhai (Shah, incumbent Ellisbridge BJP MLA), but nothing was done.” Shah assured them he will alert civic body officials to have a public toilet set up in the vicinity.A lawyer by qualification who never practised, he was accompanied by his family—daughter and wife—at the rally. A party loyalist, he has been a councillor at AMC for five consecutive terms, holding various posts—octroi chairman, water supply vice-chairman, member of the AMC standing committee for five years during Congress rule in AMC, and Leader of the Opposition from 2000 to 2005.Shah, who was the mayor of Ahmedabad between 2005 and 2008, has a more popular namesake as the Union Home Minister sitting in New Delhi. He says the confusion over two people with the same name was short-lived. “Initially, there used to be some confusion. In 1995, when Amit (Anilchandra) Shah (the Home Minister) became the Gujarat State Financial Services (GSFC) chairman, company officials had once landed up at my place with flower bouquets. I was a councillor at the time, and I told them I’m not the person they were seeking. Thereafter, I never really encountered such confusion,” says Shah.Notably, Amit Shah the mayor was a deputy accountant with Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank, where Amit Shah the current Union Home Minister was chairman in 2005.On the campaign trail, the warmest welcomes are extended by residents who claim to be affiliated to the RSS, or to have known Shah from his mayoral days. Shyam Gopaldas Shah, a retiree with a precast concrete technology business, rushes out of his house as Shah’s rally passes by. He says, “We have been friends for decades, and I’ll definitely vote for him. BJP hi aani chahiye, aur kaun aayega? [BJP should win, who else can?]”With declared moveable and immovable assets totalling Rs 3.15 crores, Shah also faces a criminal case for attacking activist Medha Patkar in 2002 during the Narmada Bachao Andolan, whose trial is still ongoing before an Ahmedabad magistrate’s court. Along with Vinai Saxena—the Delhi Lieutenant-Governor (LG), Amit Thakar—the current BJP candidate from Vejalpur, and BJP leader Rohit Patel, Shah was charged with offences under IPC pertaining to unlawful assembly, rioting, voluntarily causing hurt and criminal intimidation. “She (Patkar) did not appear before the court for 10 years. Eventually, Magistrate bhi sharma gaye ki mayor aata hai par woh (Patkar) nahi aati hai, and exempted me from appearing before the court. Gujarat’s public wants Narmada water. Patkar opposed increasing the height of the dam. We had demonstrated against her. It was nothing wrong,” says Shah.Ellisbridge has been a prestige seat for the BJP, with PM Modi having aspired for the seat once. The party has maintained control over the seat since 1998. As the city BJP chief, Shah is also tasked with managing wins in all 16 Assembly constituencies within the city’s jurisdiction. He candidly says he is banking on the Hindu vote, and that the party is not canvassing in Muslim areas. In fact, Shah’s Navrangpura rally started from the Jain temple of Dada Saheb Na Pagla, and went via the Shri Siddheshwar Hanumanji Temple.“At Ellisbridge, the Congress has never won (the last non-BJP candidate to be elected was in 1995, an Independent), and our victory margin has only gone up over the years. I believe this year’s margin will be above 80,000. We have meticulously planned our ‘page samitis’ in Hindu areas. We have not gone to Muslim areas because we don’t get their votes, so we don’t even bother working for them. We will give a bada jhatka (huge jolt) to the Congress this time. AAP is not even in the picture,” said Shah.
AHMEDABAD: City hospitals registered 361 cases of dengue in the first 26 days of November. A statement from the AMC health department said that in the November 1-26 period, city hospitals recorded 63 cases of malaria, 23 cases of falciparum and 28 cases of chikungunya. In the same period, hospitals registered 523 cases of diarrhea, 335 cases of jaundice, 426 cases of typhoid and one case of cholera. In the January 1-November 26 period city hospitals have registered 1,232 cases of malaria against 987 cases in the entire 2021. Similarly, hospitals have registered 1,232 cases of falciparum this year against 138 cases last year. AMC data shows that 27 cases of swine flu have been registered in November 1-26 period.
Several stepwells and heritage sites are undergoing restoration as part of a project by AMC’s Ahmedabad World Heritage City Trust (AWHCT). At present, the restoration work at vavs (stepwells) in Vadaj and Bapunagar is underway and so is the fortification of the wall between Nehru Bridge and Ellisbridge. The process involves experts looking for decayed structures in need for restoration. AWHCT will also lend a hand at restoring other AMC-owned sites.Highlighting the challenges of restoration, those in the know said the Bapunagar and Vadaj both are different as far as construction is concerned. The Vadaj Vav is made of a combination of brick and stone and is deep while the Bapunagar Vav is made exclusively of traditional bricks and is shallow. Both the Vavs were filled with debris and solid waste and did not have access to water perhaps because the water table has fallen.Ashish Trambadia, Director, AWHCT said the restoration will help in retaining the structure in a certain way. Giving details of the restoration, Trambadia said the Vadaj Vav will be restored with traditional lime plaster. “Working with lime requires skill. This construction doesn’t have cement which sets fast. Lime plaster on the other hand takes at least a month to set but it is a breathable traditional material,” he said.
With the measles outbreak count in Ahmedabad now at 420 cases and the number of suspect cases at 949, doctors in public sector hospitals in the eastern part of the city are seeing former measles patients now coming back with post-measles complications like pneumonia, some of who are having to be admitted to the Paediatric Intensive Care Units (PICUs).Two and a half year old Adnan* (name changed) has been admitted to three different hospitals at different times and been shown to four doctors in just one month for several complications after he was treated for measles. After his measles infection, the child got fever and swelling all over his body. His abdomen swelled due to the swelling in the liver, whose function had become impaired. With the parents having poor understanding of the child’s condition, coupled with the dismal condition of medical records, Post-Measles Pneumonia was diagnosed only by doctors at Shardaben Hospital after an X-ray a week ago. But his condition ultimately turned out to be much worse.Adnan’s father, a casual labourer, told Mirror, “He first got rashes on the skin which turned black in some places. Then the stomach swelled so much that he began crying all the time. He suffered from constant vomiting and diarrhoea. He is better now.”Pneumonia 15 daysafter measelsDr Hetal Vora, HoD of Paediatrics and Superintendent of the hospital, said, “The child suffered from multiple conditions coupled with Severe Acute Malnutrition, together indicative of Kwashiorkor. The child suffered sudden nutritional loss and the synthetic functions of the liver were impaired. While we have seen several children coming in with pneumonia within 15 days of measles treatment, we have seen this much more complicated case of Kwashiorkor for the first time.”At Shardaben Hospital, which has seen more than 300 measles patients, the highest in the city, doctors said that at least 7-10% of their former measles patients returned to the hospital within a fortnight with pneumonia infection. While the numbers may appear low, doctors said the rate of Pneumonia infection in children who are in post-measles remission is higher than that seen in the community, thanks to lowered immunity and malnutrition, exacerbated by the measles infection.Pneumonia is a well-known complication of measles, which, according to the US CDC, affects 1 in 20 measles-affected children and is the most common cause of death.At LG Hospital, which has seen about 140 measles patients in just the last 2 months, doctors said that the incidence rate of Post Measles Pneumonia would be at about 5-10%. However, further analysis and collation of data is pending due to the load of measles patients which, Superintendent Dr Leena Dabhi said, has required an expansion of the isolation ward. While doctors at the centre of the measles outbreak in eastern Ahmedabad are still attempting to gauge the scale of the problem, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) seems not to have yet taken note of the issue as there is no central data regarding Measles Associated Pneumonia. However, Dr Bhavin Solanki, Medical Officer of Health (MoH) for AMC said, “There have been no serious cases of pneumonia or of deaths due to measles inthe city.”
AHMEDABAD: A year after its closure and that of many other textile units in the city following the Gujarat high court prohibiting the discharge of treated effluent into the civic body's sewerage, Ashima Ltd has approached the HC, complaining that Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) is not responding to its request for a pipeline to discharge effluent into the Mega pipeline, which takes industrial effluent to a common effluent treatment plant (CEPT). The HC banned the discharge of treated effluent into sewers because sewage treatment plants (STP) could not process it properly and untreated wastewater was being discharged into the Sabarmati river, increasing the pollution in the river. Last year, the HC had taken up the cause of cleaning and rejuvenating the river. Ashima told the high court that the mega pipeline had agreed to accept its treated discharge. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has also granted permission for right of way to connect a pipeline to the Mega pipeline. The high court's order expressly said that such an option could be explored. The company further submitted that after getting AMC's permission to lay a pipeline from its unit to the Mega pipeline, it made an application to GPCB on July 7, requesting it to permit the connection. GPCB did not take any decision, saying the case is still pending in the court. The company's lawyer complained that the unit has been closed for nearly a year and some 1,300 workers are jobless. The bench of Justice Sonia Gokani and Justice V D Nanavati sought GPCB's reply on this issue by December 2.
The impact fee regulation introduced by the state government in mid-October to regularise illegal constructions by levying a penalty has received a lukewarm response.Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) are barely getting one or two applications daily. AUDA has received only 15 applications while AMC has also got less than a dozen after a month of ordinance.The AMC is expecting around 1 lakh applications from the city, deputy municipal commissioner I K Patel said. Admitting that the scheme had got a poor start, he said, “There’s still four months to go. We assume people are collecting documents and preparing applications.” The applications have to be made online and the AMC is training its staff to calculate the fees.AUDA has so far got only 15 applications. One of the main reasons is that the land in AUDA is mostly in the agriculture zone and there is no provision to collect impact fees on it, CEO D P Desai said. However, there are many constructions in Shela, Godhavi, VIP road and surrounding areas and the number of applicants is expected to increase, he said.Surprised at the poor response to the “attractive” scheme, the urban development department held a meeting of officials of all the local bodies last week.Under the new law, all illegal constructions in all municipal corporations, nagarpalikas and local self-government bodies will be covered. The civic officials were asked to promote the scheme and ensure maximum participation.A senior official of the department told the officials that they must ensure that the scheme gets widespread response. The government might bring some stringent laws for those who do not avail the scheme, he said. Local self-government bodies have been asked to organise special camps to make the scheme successful.The BJP government had launched a similar scheme in 2012 and had got a good response. However, this time there are few takers.The cut-off date of the scheme is October 1, 2022, which means all illegal constructions till the date would be regularised. The government has clarified that all funds collected through impact fee will be credited to “Infrastructure Development Fund” which shall be used by designated authorities for improvement or creation of infrastructure.There’s still four months to go. We assume people are collecting documents to make applications. The applications have to be made online–I K Patel, Deputy Municipal Commissioner in the AMC