Tripura legislative assembly Monday passed ten bills during a one-day monsoon session amid uproar and walkout by sixteen CPI(M) MLAs, who criticised the exclusion of question-answer hour or discussion time in the session and claimed opposition voices were throttled in the House.
The business started with obituary references and presentation of report of the Business Advisory Committee (BAC), when members of the opposition benches questioned why the session had a statement to be made by Chief Minister, replies of postponed questions from budget session six months back, laying of papers, bills and ordinances but no scope for discussion.
On being informed that the business is being curtailed to finish the session within a day to avoid unwarranted troubles during COVID-19 pandemic, CPI(M) legislators led by opposition leader Manik Sarkar raised slogans, staged protest inside the House, donning placards against alleged throttling of democratic voices inside the Assembly and staged walkout for the day.
Speaking to reporters in front of the Assembly entrance, Sarkar later said, “Six months back, the budget was passed by guillotine. Since the House wanted to finish business fast due to COVID pandemic, we forfeit our rights to discuss and passed the budget, despite several anti-people components. Now the Assembly session has resumed but we were not allowed to speak again on assaults on opposition activists, lack of livelihood, food and severe economic crisis grappling Tripura. Democratic voices are throttled inside the House. So, we have come out.”
The opposition leader also said the Assembly session is being organised in view of severe economic crises due to shortage of work in NREGA, TUEP or under the line department, severe health crises due to COVID pandemic, and sheer intolerance shown by Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb since he publicly threatened journalists during an event at Sabroom.
He criticised purported stifling of democratic voice and expressed shock over the way ten bills were placed and passed in the House sans discussion.
Sarkar said opposition legislators tried to present realistic problems faced by people including suggestions on COVID-19, political violence on opposition parties, police inaction among others but their voice was silenced by excluding provisions of discussion in the House.
Later in the Assembly, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb explained the steps taken by his government to tackle COVID-19 pandemic and associated problems like supply of medicine and healthcare equipments, COVID testing, relief operations extended for the needy among others.
Deb claimed COVID deaths in Tripura are ‘almost negligible’, even as a report released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently said the state has 1.11 percent COVID fatality rate, which is the highest in Northeast India.
“Tripura is the only state where door-to-door survey was done to identify people with risk potential.…Health department reports from last five years show 18-24 people died every day (in Tripura). 19-23 people are dying during the COVID pandemic. Among them, seven deaths are from COVID positive people. So, even as COVID-19 is pushing people to their deaths, number of COVID deaths are very negligible. These corona patients are dying due to co-morbidities like cardiac ailments, brain stroke, chronic liver failure etc”, Deb said in his statement.
As per latest reports, 245 lives were claimed by the COVID pandemic in Tripura so far, out of 22,032 people tested positive with the virus. The CM has reasoned that out of these fatalities, 67 per cent were suffering from co-morbidities as per reports updated till Saturday.
“33 per cent of all these casualties were people between 60-70 years of age, 40 per cent of these people were hospitalised only 24 hours before their death. This shows late hospitalisation is one of the main reasons of these deaths,” he said.
Deb also said his government has promptly ramped up supply of protective gears, drugs, equipments, testing services among others to tackle the pandemic.
On the state’s economic situation, the chief minister said he believes Tripura’s GDP would not fall like other states of the country and negative impact would not be seen. Explaining the reason for his claim, Deb said his government has rolled out relief to a massive population of migrant workers, street vendors and others during pandemic, schemes were launched under the Mukhyamantri Swanirbhar Yojana to provide loans for traders and make people self-reliant, and international trade routes like inland waterways connectivity with Bangladesh were launched, cargo trial run was conducted at Srimantapur Land Custom Station (LCS) and foundation stone for the state’s first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) was laid.
The CM also said his government has announced new social security pension benefits and a process for 10,000 new government recruitments is underway.
The House passed 10 bills including The Industrial Disputes (Tripura second amendment) Bill, 2020, The salaries, allowances, pensions and other benefits of the ministers, speaker, deputy speaker, leader of opposition, government chief whip and members of the legislative assembly (Tripura) (sixth amendment) Bill, 2020, with thumping vote.
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