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5 MLAs are Covid +ve, no question hour as Maharashtra assembly gets underway

Five legislators and 40 Vidhan Bhavan and Mantralaya employees have tested positive for coronavirus, said officials as the two-day monsoon session of the Maharashtra assembly begins Monday. There will be no question hour, calling attention motion or debates in the session.

As per the guidelines, only those who test negative will be allowed to participate or enter the Vidhan Bhavan complex.

“As per the final report, five legislators have tested positive in tests conducted in Mumbai. Besides them, 40 staffers have also tested positive. They will not be allowed inside the Vidhan Bhavan as per the decision taken,” said a senior state legislature official requesting anonymity.

He added that legislators could get themselves tested in their district headquarters as well.

However, their reports have not been compiled by the Vidhan Bhavan. “Those [legislators] who test positive in a test done in their districts, will not come for the session. There is no separate maintenance for that here,” he said.

Over the weekend, 2,200 Covid tests were carried out in the city for the MLAs, MLCs, the staff of the legislators and ministers and of Vidhan Bhavan and Mantralaya employees.

Three days ahead of the session, Vidhan Sabha speaker Nana Patole tested positive for coronavirus. Deputy speaker Narhari Zirwal is expected to conduct the proceedings in the Lower House.

State legislature has put elaborate safety measures, including UV light inside Vidhan Bhavan.

Upon entering, legislators will be given a safety kit which would include a face shield, mask, hand gloves. They are expected to wear it inside the complex. “As a safety measure, each legislator will be given a safety kit. The kit will include items such as face shields, masks, hand gloves, sanitisers, etc,” the official added. The legislators’ personal assistants (PAs) will not be allowed into the House.

The officials have made changes in the seating arrangements in the House keeping social distancing in mind. Out of the 288 MLAs, only 228 MLAs will be allowed inside the Assembly hall of the Vidhan Sabha, remaining 60 will be accommodated in the visitors’ and students’ gallery. Similar changes would be made for legislators of the Upper House.

The brief session will take up supplementary demands and seven bills and an appropriation bill.

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