Goa curtails Assembly meet; MLAs bat for virtual session (Ld)

Panaji, July 3 (IANS) The upcoming 11-day Goa Assembly session has been curtailed to a one-day event, in view of the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the state, Speaker Rajesh Patnekar said on Friday.Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat said on Friday, after an all-party meeting chaired by Patnekar at the state legislative Assembly complex, also said that some legislators had demanded organising of a virtual session of the state Assembly.”The Covid-19 disease spread is increasing. The session we had decided on has now been curtailed after a unanimous decision by all MLAs…A longer session will be held in December instead,” Patnekar said.Kamat said that the meeting called by the Speaker was an informal one to solicit views of the legislators on the duration of the session.”Today’s meeting was an informal one called by the Speaker. There were discussions on various aspects taking into consideration the Covid-19 situation. One suggestion is that the Assembly session should be limited to one day for passing of vote on accounts,” Leader of Opposition and former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat told reporters, after emerging from the meeting with other MLAs.Kamat also said that in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the state budget which was presented some months back by Sawant “had no meaning” and there was no point in discussing the financial paper now.”The budget has no meaning. It will have to be reset. All these aspects will be discussed in upcoming (legislative) Business Advisory Committee meeting. The Speaker has also said that information about how states are managing state Assembly sessions in other states like Maharashtra and Delhi will be sought, before the BAC meeting,” Kamat said.Kamat said that the Speaker as well as other MLAs discussed the risks of holding a prolonged assembly session, at a time when Covid-19 cases were rising with a record 90 plus cases reported on Thursday.”Apart from MLAs, there are hundreds of persons who are present during an Assembly session including civil officers, policemen, Assembly staff,” the Leader of Opposition said.”There is the air conditioning factor, the rainy season. Cases are increasing on the outside. The Speaker has said let us have a one-day session and then a full-fledged session at a later date,” Kamat said.The former Chief Minister also said that legislators have suggested that a virtual session of the state Assembly should be organised to mitigate infection risk.One ruling BJP MLA from South Goa district and his family have already been quarantined after they tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this week.–IANSmaya/rs/

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