At least two MLAs and 37 government staffers who were to attend the Monsoon Session of the Maharashtra legislature from Monday have tested positive for Covid-19.
Sources said that while around 2,200 people, including legislators and government officials, have been tested since Saturday, the reports of some are yet to come in.
Maharashtra’s legislators are set to converge at the Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai for a two-day Monsoon Session – the first since the pandemic – amid strict safety measures place by the Legislative Secretariat.
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“The number of those infected may increase further as some MLAs have tested themselves at their district headquarters and the reports are yet to be compiled,” said an official, adding that the final figure of how many have been infected would be known on Monday.
Assembly Speaker Nana Patole had tested positive on Friday. Sources said that in Patole’s absence, Deputy Speaker Narhari Zhirwal is expected to chair the proceedings in the Vidhan Sabha.
The Business Advisory Committee of the state legislature, which comprises Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Devendra Fadnavis among others, had made Covid-19 tests compulsory for all who would be a part of the Monsoon Session, including MLAs and government officials. Only those who test negative will be allowed entry inside in both the Assembly and the Legislative Council.
The committee, which had met on September 25, had decided that only bills, unstarred questions and supplementary demands will be discussed during the session. In all, 14 government bills and one appropriation bill will be taken up. Also, Question Hour and calling attention motion would not be taken up.
“The business of the state legislature has been finalised after discussions with Opposition parties,” said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anil Parab.
For the two-day session, the Legislature Secretariat has put in place a slew of safety measures. Inside the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council, germicidal ultraviolet machines and ozone generators have been installed to maintain a sterile environment. A special disinfectant coating is being out on the furniture and other equipment to avoid any spread of the infection.
All legislators will be handed a safety kit, which will include a face shield, masks, hand gloves and sanitisers. Due to the pandemic, the customary tea party was not hosted by the ruling coalition on Sunday.
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