Bhubaneswar: Amid coronavirus scare, the state Assembly, Monday, unanimously passed the Appropriation Bill allowing the state government to spend Rs 1.55 lakh crore from its consolidated fund during the financial year 2020-21.
The House, which held a brief session at the convention centre in Lok Seva Bhawan instead of the Assembly building as Odisha’s third COVID-19 patient was found to have come in contact with seven Vidhan Sabha employees, was adjourned sine die following the passage of the Bill.
The Odisha Appropriation Bill, 2020 was introduced by Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari while Leader of Opposition Pradipta Kumar Naik of the BJP and Congress Legislature Party Leader Narasingha Mishra supported it.
The Bill was passed unanimously, said senior BJD lawmaker Amar Prasad Satpathy.
Pujari had presented the annual Budget in the Assembly, February 18. However, due to novel coronavirus outbreak and subsequent adjournment of the Assembly from March 16 to March 29, discussion on Demands of Grants of all the departments could not be taken up, he said. The Finance Minister sought support from all the members in fighting COVID-19. “We have so far been able to contain the spread of the disease by taking timely action,” Pujari said, adding that the fight against the deadly virus continues and therefore, everyone should support the state government.
He said the new fiscal beginning from April will start with the fight against COVID-19 that has claimed many lives across the globe including in the US and Italy.
“Apart from other developmental activities, the state government requires funds to tackle the COVID-19,” Pujari said.
Journalists were not allowed inside the convention centre where the House assembled for an hour to pass the Appropriation Bill. The convention centre was sanitised by the employees of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) before the sitting commenced.
Following a request by Speaker SN Patro, only 30 per cent of the 147 MLAs of the Assembly attended the session and members were allotted seats at two metre distance from each other as a social distancing measure.
All the MLAs were thermally screened before they entered the convention centre.
The Speaker had suspended the Assembly proceedings till March 29 following the coronavirus outbreak.
On March 13, Patro had also announced that the budgetary demands for grants for 38 departments scheduled for discussion between March 16 and 27 were passed through guillotine before the Appropriation Bill.
Around 50 MLAs including Speaker SN Patro, who participated in the Monday Session, were seen wearing masks and entered into the House after washing their hands.
Some of them were also seen wearing hand gloves while a few others themselves drove their cars to the Lok Seva Bhawan instead of being chauffeured to the venue, a legislator said.
This is for the first time in the last six decades that the House proceedings were held outside the Assembly building. The entire Assembly building has been sanitised and all the staff members have been home quarantined.
Outside the House, Leader of Opposition Pradipta Kumar Naik said the BJP supported the government in the Appropriation Bill as all should join their hands during times of crisis like the present situation.
He urged the state government to ensure that all persons suspected to be infected with novel coronavirus cases be examined and placed under isolation.
“I have urged the state government to make a provision of insurance for all the medical personnel engaged in the fight against the coronavirus,” Naik said.
Congress chief whip Taraprasad Bahinipati said that people in villages are starving due to lack of work and urged the state government to provide foodgrains to everyone irrespective of whether they have ration cards.