MLAs Sit Under a Neem Tree in Pondicherry to Approve Budget as Hall Closed For COVID-19 Sanitisation
The hall has been shut after an opposition MLA was tested positive and was admitted to a hospital.
New Delhi: In an unprecedented sitting prompted after a legislator tested positive for Coronavirus, the Puducherry Assembly on Saturday held its Budget session under a tree and later adjourned sine die after approving budgetary allocations to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore without discussion.
The House had its session under a neem tree as the main hall was shut for sanitisation following opposition AINRC MLA N S J Jayabal testing positive for the virus and being hospitalised on Friday night.
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The session, which began on July 20, already had been an eventful one with Lt Governor Kiran Bedi staying away from delivering her customary address to the House to mark the session, in the backdrop of her running feud with Chief Minister V Narayanasamy.
She had said the budget did not have her approval, but the Chief Minister presented it the same day after the House kept her address at abeyance.
However, she addressed the members on Friday in the midst of an ongoing session, another unprecedented development, even as Health Minister Malladi Rao and three ruling Congress MLAs boycotted it for Bedi pulling up senior doctors and health staff over COVID-19 management in the union territory recently.
On Saturday, official sources said this was the first time the House held its meeting at an improvised site.
The House passed before adjournment, the Appropriation Bill earmarking Rs 9,000 crore for the government tabled by Narayanasamy.
All the demands for grants to more than 30 government departments for fiscal 2020-2021 were passed without discussion by the members.
The Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues moved the demands for grants to their respective departments.
The Speaker V P Sivakolundhu, who presided over the day’s proceedings, later adjourned the House sine die.
Earlier, the Speaker and the CM were in a virtual hot search for an appropriate alternative venue to hold the day’s proceedings after the main hall of the House was shut as a precautionary measure following a legislator testing positive for Coronavirus.
Initially, the committee hall on the top floor of the Assembly’s annexe campus was sought to be chosen for the day’s meeting.
However, the Speaker found the space insufficient to accommodate all the Members and officials and finalised the open space available outside the main building for the two-hour meeting, which ended at 3.35 pm.
Necessary arrangements were made at a quick pace.
Barring opposition AINRC legislators, all others were present and participated in the deliberations wearing masks and maintaining social distance.
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