Citizens' Issues
Second phase of Bihar polls end with 54 percent voting
The second phase of staggered assembly elections in Bihar ended on Friday with about 54 percent of the 8.58 million electorate voting in 32 of the 243 constituencies, officials said.
 
The polling was peaceful as millions defied Maoist threats to troop to more than 8,800 polling centres across six districts to decide the fate of 456 candidates including former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi.
 
The main battle for power is between the BJP-led four-party alliance and the Grand Alliance of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
 
The Bihar battle, which began on Monday and ends on November 5 and whose outcome will be known on November 8, is the biggest popularity test in the country after the Delhi election in February in which the AAP routed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
 
As many as 23 of the 32 constituencies where ballotting took place were known Maoist hubs. Polling in 11 of them ended at 3 p.m. and in 12 others an hour later to enable officers to leave the area before sunlight fades.
 
Additional Chief Electoral Officer R. Lakshmanan told IANS that the polling was slow initially but picked up later -- a la the first round of voting on Monday.
 
According to him, women again voted in large numbers. 
 
As the day progressed, the queues outside polling booth turned serpentine, reports from various constituencies said.
 
The two main coalitions fighting it out in Bihar are the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and its allies the RJD and the Congress as well as the BJP and its allies including the LJP, HAM and RLSP.
 
Among the key contestants on Friday were HAM leader and former chief minister Manjhi, Speaker Uday Narayan Choudhary and BJP leader Prem Kumar, one of the contenders for the chief minister's post.
 
Manjhi contested for two constituencies: Makhdumpur in Jehanabad and Imamganj in Gaya.
 
With caste equations coming to the fire, the Grand Alliance banked on OBCs and Muslims and sections of Dalits and EBCs to capture most of the 32 seats. The BJP and its allies are confident of the support of upper castes along with sections of OBCs, EBCs and Dalits.
 
The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist had vowed to disrupt the elections. With most of the 8,849 polling booths in rural areas, officials in charge of security had their fingers crossed through the day.
 
Five helicopters, drones and 993 companies of paramilitary forces were deployed.
 
Bihar Police chief P.K. Thakur told the media here that polling was peaceful barring minor clashes between rivals.
 
Officials said voters in over a dozen villages in Aurangabad, Kaimur, Jehanabad and Arwal boycotted the polls against what they said was lack of development in the past five years.
 
According to the Association of Democratic Reforms and the National Election Watch, 142 candidates in the second round faced serious criminal charges including those of murder.
 
The third round of polling will be held on October 28.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Arunachal to soon produce amber-coloured wine from kiwi fruit
 Reds and whites have been around for ages. Now comes an amber one. Fresh and crisp and high on aroma, Arun Kiwi is a wine that Arunachal Pradesh can truly be proud of as it will soon start producing the drink.
 
Not too long ago, being India's largest producer of the kiwi fruit, the northeastern state found itself in a dilemma as to how to make the best use of it. It was then the idea of making wine out of the fruit dawned on the authorities of the land of the dawn-lit mountains.
 
"Since we had a problem in marketing the hugely abundant produce, we thought of making wine out of it," Egam Basar, head of the state Horticulture Research and Development Institute, told this visiting IANS correspondent.
 
The government then invited Pune-based Hill Crest Food and Beverages to come and check the possibility of kiwi wine.
 
The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding in December 2013 and Arun Kiwi, India's first kiwi wine brand, saw the light of the day in May.
 
The wine is not yet being sold here commercially here but has become a huge hit in Maharashtra, according to Basar.
 
The state government has decided to set up wineries here to and become India's newest wine-producing state.
 
"After Arun Kiwi was launched, the Arunachal Pradesh government decided that wineries should be set up in the state to generate employment and entrepreneurship among youth," said Basar, who is also mission director of the Arunachal Pradesh Horticulture Research and Development Mission.
 
Given that the fruit is delicate and difficult to transport, it makes sense to set up wineries in the state itself. And so, in order to attract investors, the state government has drawn up a wine industry policy after experts went through similar policies of Karnataka and Maharashtra.
 
"The policy envisages a single window clearance for issuing licences and providing electricity and water supply for setting up wineries and also granting tax exemption for 10 years. The policy treats wine as a food processing industry," Basar explained.
 
Apart from various types of kiwis that grow in the wild, the state grows four main varieties - Monty, Hayward, Bruno and Allison. The fruit is mostly grown in the state's West Kameng and Lower Subansiri districts. 
 
With 1,500 metres above sea level being the ideal altitude to grow the kiwi, a hectare of land can produce six to nine tonnes of the fruit annually.
 
"Around 5,000 metric tonnes of the fruit are grown in around 4,000 hectares of land. Since much of this is new land, it will take at least five years for production to reach its full potential," Basar said. 
 
According to him, kiwi is anti-oxidant, is rich in vitamin C and has a lot of minerals. "Kiwi is a perennial fruit and grows throughout the year. Harvesting is done around October-November," Basar said.
 
After having got GI registration for the variety of orange called Mandarin, the state is now set to apply for GI registration of Monty, Hayward, Bruno and Allison kiwis.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Maggi noodles safe, lab tests clear all samples: Nestle
Nestle India said on Friday that 100 percent of the Maggi instant noodles' samples tested in three laboratories have been cleared and that the noodles are safe for human consumption.
 
Armed with these reports, the Indian arm of the Swiss multinational food giant plans to resume soon the production of Maggi noodles that were banned last June amid concerns over high lead and monosodium glutamate (MSG) content.
 
In a statement, Nestle said the results have been received from all three labs mandated by the Bombay High Court to test samples of noodles manufactured by the company.
 
"All 90 samples, covering six variants, tested by the three laboratories, are clear, with lead much below the permissible limits," the Nestle statement added.
 
The company assured it would continue to collaborate with the Indian food regulator, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), and other stakeholders on the issue.
 
"In compliance with the Bombay High Court orders, we will now commence manufacture and will begin selling only after the newly manufactured products are also cleared by the three designated laboratories. We are committed to reintroduce our Maggi noodles (in the Indian market) at the earliest," Nestle said.
 
In the past few months, Nestle conducted around 3,500 tests representing 200 million packs in national and international accredited laboratories and all reports were clear.
 
Besides, tests in several other countries like the US, Britain, Australia and Singapore also found Maggi noodles manufactured in India safe for human consumption.
 
In June, the FSSAI ordered a nationwide ban on the company's noodles on the ground that these were "unsafe and hazardous" for human consumption due to presence of lead allegedly beyond permissible limits. 
 
The MNC withdrew its instant noodles from the Indian market as a result and moved the Bombay High Court against the FSSAI ban.
 
A division bench comprising Justices V.M. Kanade and B.P. Colabawalla in August set aside the June 5 order of the FSSAI and also quashed an order of Maharashtra's Food and Drugs Administration banning production and sale of Maggi noodles in India and the state.
 
The court, however, ordered fresh test on Maggi noodles' samples at three independent labs across India.
 
Nestle India was directed to send five samples of each variant to accredited labs in Punjab, Hyderabad and Jaipur and asked the labs to give reports within six weeks.
 
The consumer affairs ministry filed a class action suit against Nestle India, seeking about Rs.640 crore in damages for alleged unfair trade practices, false labelling and misleading advertisements.
 
It was for the first time that the ministry dragged a company to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) under the Consumer Protection Act.
 
However, the apex consumer court on Thursday ordered fresh tests on 13 samples of Maggi noodles from nine batches to determine lead and "MSG stock glutamate" content.
 
Nestle India on September 30 said that due to the ban, over 9,000 suppliers of Maggi noodles had gone out of business. Over 10,000-12,000 distributors also lost their livelihood. The company said it wished to resolve the matter as soon as possible and was "not interested in delaying it".
 
Suresh Narayanan, the India chief of the company, earlier said the "focus of the company is to get Nestle back on the shelves" and added that the "controversy had cast a shadow over Nestle's portfolio".
 
Narayanan told the media that the multinational company was targeting to get the product into the Indian market by the year-end.
 
Meanwhile, the shares of Nestle India rose by 5.6 percent to Rs.6,555, the biggest gain since August 5. The shares had plunged after FSSAI's recall order which resulted in the company's first ever quarterly loss in more than 15 years.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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