The Orissa Assembly was witness to frequent adjournments on Thursday,with MLAs on their feet and restless. But this time it wasnt the Opposition that was to blame,but a snake,that may or may not have been a cobra.
The Assembly cleaning staff first discovered the reptile and set off a chase. Briefly,they spotted it near Chief Minister Naveen Patnaiks table,but the snake eluded all attempts at a capture. While Patnaik himself sat still in his chair,some terrified MLAs could be seen trying to find their way out.
But after a day-long hunt,involving Chief Wildlife Warden B K Patnaik,members of a snake-catching NGO as well as police sniffer dogs,the snake remained untraceable. Speaker Pradeep Amat adjourned the House for the day as the search went on.
The Chief Wildlife Warden said he was not sure whether the snake was a cobra or common rat snake as a cleaning staff could not be expected to know the difference. Normally we see rat snakes during the onset of monsoon. Anyway we blew hot air and sprayed pesticide into all the pipes and drains in the Assembly where the snake might have slithered in. The Assembly carpet was also dusted, he said.
Interestingly,as panic reigned in the Assembly,in the contiguous Secretariat building,a fire broke out destroying electronic gadgets and furniture in the Industries Department office situated on the second floor. The fire was suspected to have been caused due to a short circuit. Some gadgets,including a computer,fax machine,fan and an air cooler,were gutted.
While Speaker Amat said the Assembly would resume proceedings on Friday,a BJD MLA who was present in the House admitted that he was still scared of the hissing intruder. Snakes look good on TV. But for me they are the worst nightmares, said the first-timer. Whenever I see a snake,I fly out of my home.
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