Amid a spike in Covid-19 cases, the Punjab government is finding a way to organise monsoon session of Vidhan Sabha in such a way that the exposure of the legislators, staff and viewers to the contagion is minimised. The session is likely to have either a single sitting or two sittings in two days.
The session is likely to be organised in the last week of August. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has already cautioned people of the state to hold on to their nerves as the state is expected to witness the peak of Covid-19 in September. The state is already witnessing over 1,000 cases every day. On Sunday, Cabinet Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar and Deputy Speaker Ajaib Singh Bhatti tested positive for coronavirus.
Punjab is required to organise a session before September 3, as Constitution provides for a session to be organised within six months of the last session. The government does not have an option left. Neighbouring Haryana has already announced its two-day session on August 26 and 27. Since both Haryana and Punjab Vidhan Sabha are housed in the same complex, the state government wants to stagger sessions of both the states to avoid crowding. It is looking at four dates: August 24, 25, 31 and September 1.
The government is debating whether to hold a session for just a day, and finish it after just obituary references or organise two-day session having a sitting of one hour each. The decision will be taken in the Cabinet meeting to be held on Monday.
“I am yet to see the file. We will take a call tomorrow. The session is to be organised. It cannot be delayed by a single day. This is the Constitutional provision. All that we can do is to just have obituary references and adjourn the session. The legislative business could be postponed,” said a functionary of the government.
The government is planning to ensure that the legislators are made to sit ensuring social distancing. There are 105 desks in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, where 210 MLAs can be accommodated. The government is planning that only one MLA occupies a desk meant for two. This way the government will have to put 11 more benches in the Assembly Hall as Punjab has 117 legislators, including the Speaker. It requires 116 desks for accommodating all legislators.
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