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Coronavirus | Chaos ahead of Maharashtra monsoon session over COVID-19 test reports

Members, whose test results were not available and were barred from entering Assembly, voice discontent to Deputy CM Ajit Pawar.

Chaotic scenes were witnessed in the Maharashtra Vidhan Bhavan premises on Monday before the commencement of the monsoon session of the State legislature as several MLAs were not allowed inside since their coronavirus test reports were not available.

The two-day monsoon session of the State legislature began amid the shadow of COVID-19. Deputy Speaker Narhari Zhirwal presided over the session as House Speaker Nana Patole had tested positive on Friday.

Former speaker Haribhau Bagade and other legislators, who were not able to enter the Vidhan Bhavan, complained to State Deputy Chief minister Ajit Pawar when he arrived there.

Mr. Pawar called legislature secretary Rajendra Bhagwat and asked him to ensure that all legislators whose test reports are negative be allowed inside at the earliest.

He also summoned the local Deputy Commissioner of Police and asked him to clear the crowd gathered at the Vidhan Bhavan’s main gate.

“Check the badges of members and their test reports first. Many members have got their tests done privately, allow them in if their reports are negative,” Mr. Pawar told the legislature staff.

According to Vidhan Bhavan sources, as many as 2,115 samples for coronavirus tests were collected from legislators, ministers, bureaucrats,legislature staff members and journalists over the weekend.

So far, 58 samples have tested positive, the sources said.

Meanwhile, some opposition MLAs staged a protest on the stairs of the Vidhan Bhavan building, demanding scrapping of the regional reservation for medical admissions.

New ordinances

After the session began, Mr. Pawar tabled ordinances related to amendments to GST and contingency fund.

Ordinances pertaining to rural development and urban development departments for postponement of elections to local bodies and mayoral posts due to the pandemic were also tabled along with other bills and papers.

Mr. Pawar tabled the supplementary demands for 2020-21. The debate on these demands will be taken up on Tuesday before their passage.

State officials have put in place a slew of measures to ensure members of the legislature do not contract COVID-19 and House proceedings go on without any hindrance.

Compulsory antigen tests for legislators, distribution of COVID-19 kits and a new seating arrangement to ensure physical distancing among members are some of the measures undertaken for the two-day session, Vidhan Bhavan officials earlier said.

The shortest-ever monsoon session in the history of the Maharashtra legislature is taking place in the backdrop of a raging COVID-19 pandemic which has already infected more than nine lakh people in the State.

The brief session will take up supplementary demands and certain bills, among other legislature work.

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