HIMACHAL PRADESH continues to implement its institutional quarantine mechanism and the government continues to ensure the treatment of each Covid patient even though these practices have eroded in other states, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur told the state Legislative Assembly on the third day of the monsoon session here Wednesday.
“Those returning home are still being quarantined at home or at a centre to control the spread of infection. Himachal has reported fewer cases and deaths than many smaller states such as Tripura and Puducherry,” he said while giving his reply to a Covid-related discussion which began on Monday following an adjournment motion by the Congress. The state has reported 60 deaths and nearly 8,000 cases so far.
The state’s own revenue during the first five months of this fiscal has dropped by Rs 1,312 crore or 30 per cent as compared to last year, and the state took a loan of Rs 500 crore during this period while paying off previous debts worth Rs 2,285 crore, Thakur said.
The testing capacity in Himachal has increased to 5,000 samples per day (around 2,00-2,500 samples are being tested these days) and the state now has more than 600 ventilators, the CM said. He added that the government ensured an adequate production of apple packaging material during the harvest season while cherry farmers got a very high price for their produce this year despite the pandemic-induced uncertainties in the market.
He said more people were brought under the pension scheme, the pension of widows and people with physical disabilities was increased, beneficiaries of targeted PDS were given two months of ration in advance in April, the expenditure under MNREGA increased by around 45 per cent so far this fiscal and the honorarium of ASHA workers has been increased for three months. He also recounted other relief measures and incentives given to workers, industrialists, stranded migrant labourers and others during the lockdown period, and added that 4.53 lakh Himachalis residing or stranded in other places have returned home to the state since April 25.
1.5 hours of protest
Congress MLAs walked into the well of the House and raised slogans against Thakur and his government for around one and a half hours, during which Thakur gave his reply. They were protesting against the Speaker not allowing some of their members to participate in the discussion.
Speaker Vipin Parmar told them that he had allowed the discussion to go on for around 6.5 hours against the 2.5 hours allowed as per rules and that the House had agreed by consensus to end the discussion at 5 pm on Tuesday. The Opposition said he extended the session on Tuesday by 20 minutes for two BJP ministers and could have extended it further to accommodate inputs by four Congress members who wanted to speak on the topic.
Following the CM’s reply, Congress MLAs left the House and the remaining members rejected the adjournment motion by a voice vote. The motion had been moved by the Congress under Rule 67 to discuss the “mismanagement and corruption in the state during the Covid pandemic” under Rule 67. Parmar said it was the first time in the history of the House that an adjournment motion had been allowed keeping in mind the serious nature of the issue involved.
House ‘concerned for Kangana Ranaut’s security’
Dehra MLA Hoshyar Singh raised the issue of demolition of property of “daughter of Himachal Kangana Ranaut” in Mumbai’s Bandra locality, and the privilege motion moved against her in Maharashtra Assembly. “Through this house, we request the Maharashtra government to take no such step which may pose a threat to her security,” said the chief minister, while several other members “expressed concern for her safety and well-being”.
Congress MLA Ram Lal Thakur said the issue of demolition is sub-judice and the House should refrain from commenting on it. “Kangana should stay safe, everybody should stay safe. However, it is not appropriate for this House to discuss or interfere in a privilege motion brought about in the Maharashtra Assembly,” said Opposition leader Mukesh Agnihotri.
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