Bhubaneswar: The Assembly Wednesday passed the Epidemic Diseases (Odisha Amendment) Bill, 2020 amid protests by opposition BJP and Congress in the House.
The Bill, which was introduced Tuesday, was debated Wednesday on the floor of the House where BJP and Congress members opposed the provision of imposing a hefty Rs 1 lakh penalty along with two-year jail term for violation of COVID-19 norms.
In the Bill, the government has amended Section 2 & 3 of Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. The government has inserted a new provision under Section 2, which empowers the state government in procurement of goods, services and equipment necessary for prevention and control of the disease and the manner of such procurement.
The other amendment is that now government can impose fine upto Rs 1 lakh or imprisonment upto 2 year or both.
“What was the hurry to bring two amendments to the Act in such a short span of time? Why provision of such a huge amount of fine has been made in the Bill? What will be the problem, if less amount of fine is imposed?” asked Leader of Opposition Pradipta Naik (BJP).
Dubbing it a ‘Black Bill’, senior BJP MLA Jay Narayan Mishra said, “The Bill was introduced to arrest the Opposition leaders, who are raising voice against the government in COVID mismanagement. No such regulation was imposed even during British rule.” He demanded withdrawal of the Bill.
Congress legislative party leader Narasingha Mishra also raised questions on making amendments to the Act through ordinances in April and August. “When there was allegation of corruption and some people have been summoned by Lokayukta in July, the government brought the ordinance in August. I am opposing the amendment to Section 2 to the Act,” the Congress leader said referring to the alleged scam in procurement of masks and PPE kits for healthcare workers.
Congress MLA from Jeypore, Taraprasad Bahinipati, too opposed the provision of Rs 1 lakh fine. “People in my district and other KBK areas cannot pay such hefty penalty. They even don’t understand the regulations. Besides, there is no provision of any appellate authority, where one can move against the fine.”
Health Minister Naba Kishore Das said the Bill was made to strengthen the system and prevent people from getting infected with coronavirus and not meant to arrest any opposition party leader.