The Odisha Assembly on Wednesday passed the Epidemic Diseases (Odisha Amendment) Bill, 2020, which proposes to enhance the punishment for violations to two-year jail term and fine of up to Rs 1 lakh.
Addressing the Assembly, Health Minister Naba Kishore Das said, “In spite of aggressive awareness campaigns undertaken by the government, some people are not complying with social distancing guidelines, thereby endangering public health.” The existing Act of 1897 “appears to be insufficient to take care of the situation”, Das said. “Considering the need for stricter observance of guidelines for containing the spread of the disease and to interrupt human-to-human transmission it is felt that it is necessary to enhance the penalty amount.” It is also necessary to make an offence under the Act cognizable considering the gravity of the spread of Covid-19, he added.
The Bill was passed amid criticism from the Opposition over alleged Covid-19 mismanagement.
Congress leader Tara Bahinipati said, “Over 8 lakh migrants returned to the state, which is the official number. According to the government, Rs 9 crore was spent on the migrants. The CM was excessively generous in bringing back migrants but with no plan to manage them. This led to shooting up of cases.”
Leader of Opposition Pradipta Naik said, “Machines and kits were purchased at higher rates. But the state government hasn’t taken any action against corrupt officials.” Das said allegations of irregularities in purchase of masks and PPEs are being probed and strict action will be taken against those found guilty.
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