THE GUJARAT government on Monday declared October 30 as a holiday, thus giving a stretch of five days to its employees to celebrate Diwali, impressing upon being an “employee friendly government”. October 31 is already a government holiday for Sardar Patel Jayanti, though Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting the Statue of Unity site that day. November 1, Friday, will mark Labh Pancham, the fifth day of the Gujarati new year, considered auspicious for businesses establishments to open new accounts. The bonus holiday to enjoy Diwali comes in lieu of November 9, which will now be a working Saturday, said a communication from the General Administration Department. Diwali, an important festival in Gujarat, falls on October 27, followed by the first day of the Gujarati new year and Bhai Beej, both of which (October 28 and 29) are holidays. In any case, nothing remains functional in Gujarat till Labh Pancham. Apart from the employees of the state government in Secretariat, the decision applies to all employees of state government undertakings, boards, corporations and panchayats.
A DAY after a village panchayat block in Sehra taluka of Panchmahals put up hoardings declaring all eight villages under its jurisdiction as Open Defecation Free (ODF) during a ‘Seva Setu’ program, villagers from as many as three neighbourhoods approached the taluka-level officers claiming that no toilets were built in their villages. In their memorandum, the villagers stated, “If the villages are ODF, then 70 toilets have gone missing from the villages.” The revelation has now led to an inquiry being set up by the Mamlatdar. Preliminary investigations revealed that pits were dug for the toilets, but no further work was undertaken. While the pits were counted as ‘toilets’ for the gram panchayat, the villagers still go out and defecate in the open.