September 4, 2020 3:31:03 am
From germicidal ultra violet lights inside the Vidhan Bhavan in Maharashtra to a special disinfectant coating that can keep objects sterilised for hours, the state legislature has put in place elaborate safety measures to shield legislators from Covid-19 as they converge for a two-day Monsoon Session from Monday.
As per the rules laid down by the Secretariat for the state’s first Assembly and Legislative Council sessions amid the pandemic, every legislator will have to undergo a Covid-19 test. Only those who test negative will be allowed entry inside.
Unlike in the past, when personal assistants (PAs) of MLAs were also allowed entry inside Vidhan Bhavan, this time around, only ministers will be allowed to bring along a PA. The PAs of other MLAs — each can bring only one — will have to stay put at a designated area that will be earmarked outside the Vidhan Bhavan.
The MLAs may get themselves tested at their respective district headquarters or in Mumbai where a hospital has been earmarked for the same. They will be put up in three-star hotels around south Mumbai in view of the current fiscal condition of the state, said officials.
Upon their entry into the Vidhan Bhavan premises, each legislator will be handed a safety kit that will include a face shield, masks, hand gloves and sanitisers. “The MLAs are expected to wear the face shields, masks and hand gloves,” said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anil Parab.
Inside both the Houses, germicidal ultra violet machines as well as Ozone generators will be set up to maintain a sterile environment.
Authorities have also decided to use a special disinfectant coating on the furniture and other equipment inside the chambers to avoid any spread of infection.
The legislators’ seating arrangement will be spaced out with only 228 MLAs being allowed to sit in the Assembly or the Vidhan Sabha, which can seat 288. The remaining 60 will be accommodated in the visitors or students gallery. Mostly, first-time or junior MLAs are likely to be made to sit in the galleries while others, including the chief minister and Opposition leader will sit in the House, sources said.
“All facilities, including mike and documents, will be provided to the remaining 60 MLAs so that they can participate in House proceedings.
They will be accommodated in the gallery only for the purpose of seating and social distancing,” said an official.
In the Legislative Council or the Vidhan Parishad, however, all the 60 legislators will be accommodated in the same chamber. While the Upper House has 78 members, 18 seats remain vacant as of date.
While the timings of the two-day session are yet to be finalised, over 1,000 people are expected to be present at Vidhan Bhavan. This number includes legislators as well as officials from the Mantralaya and state legislature.
“All senior bureaucrats and officials who are related to the business of the House are only permitted for the session. The thousand people will not gather at one time and will attend the proceedings depending on the business of the House,” said an official.The official added that seating arrangement for drivers and PAs of MLAs will be made in a tent in the state legislature premises. The arrangement of snacks will be made in the tent only. Officials further said that as usual, two medical teams and two fully-equipped ambulances will be stationed at the Vidhan Bhavan for the session.
Sources said that the decision on holding the customary tea party, in which the Opposition party is invited, by the ruling parties on the eve of the Assembly session is yet to be taken.
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