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Nagaland Legislative Assembly allocates time for Covid-19 in its one-day monsoon session

By Our Correspondent Updated: Jul 23, 2020 9:34 pm

The opposition to get 35 minutes and the treasury bench, 25 minutes, during the 1-hour discussion

NLA Speaker Sharingain Longkumer
Sharingain Longkumer (left) speaks to media persons at his office chamber on July 23. (EM Images)

Our Correspondent
Kohima, July 23 (EMN): The Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) has decided to allocate one hour to discuss Covid-19 in the upcoming sixth session of the 13th NLA, scheduled to be held on July 30.

Briefing media persons at his office chamber on Thursday, NLA Speaker Sharingain Longkumer said that one full hour has been allocated for discussion of Covid-19, besides other business and one hour of question hour.

“The discussion of Covid-19 is not only a behest but it was desired to be accommodated because it is the most important issue at present. A full one hour discussion allocating 35 minutes to the opposition and 25 minutes to the treasury bench has been communicated via letter,” he said.

The speaker informed that they had discussed on the possibility of having the session for three days. But because of the peculiar nature of the pandemic, one day session was contemplated, and had to make judicious use of the daylong session.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, ‘the government also does not seem to have much business this time’. Most importantly, discussion of urgent public matter – Covid-19, needs to be incorporated, he pointed out.

About 27 questions have been received, most of which are related to Covid-19 or Health and Family Welfare-related matters. Out of the total questions, 25 are starred and others are unstarred, Longkumer added.

He said that they would hold the session for all the 60 legislators, with HODs and AHODs of the department concerned for which questions have been put up.

In light of the Covid-19 SOPs, he said that the Assembly would allow one member per bench. While only 30 legislators – 13 from opposition and 17 from ruling can be accommodated at the central room, remaining legislators will be accommodated in the officers’ gallery. In that way, social distance can be maintained, he added.

Out of the 60 members, 43 members belong to 50 plus age group and seven members are above 70. Coronavirus affects the elders and “it is a very delicate matter; we have to take all these factors into consideration,” the speaker said.

“More footholds means more chances of spreading the infection, therefore precautionary measures were taken. The security guard and the drivers, who are coming with the legislators, have a tendency to crowd the place,” he added.

Therefore, about five medical teams were prepared for the session to scan and check entries of persons. Each medical team will be posted at different locations for the people — one posted at the main gate for the escorts; another for the security personnel and drivers of the legislators; and two teams for the legislators.

On the accusations made by the opposition NPF in sections of the press, the speaker said that he don’t have anything to say on that, adding that the matters were discussed during the Business Advisory Committee meeting. In the context of this current situation ‘this is the best that it can come up with’.

“I am elected as Speaker for all of them so my office is always neutral and I have to take into consideration their concern also when it comes to Covid-19. I cannot take anyone’s health at stake here,” Longkumer said.

Opposition have requested for more time to discuss on three matters — Covid-19 situation, the Naga political issue, and the Sarfaesi Act, 2002. Suggestion was also made to discuss the infamous governor’s letter to the office of CM during the session.

However, discussion on the governor’s letter was rejected because Governor is the constitutional head of the state and he cannot be discussed in the Assembly, the speaker said.

He also said that the Naga political solution would be discussed at the Joint Legislators’ Forum (JLF) which was proposed to be held after the Assembly session on the same day. Communication has been relayed to the leader of opposition and the reply is awaited, he added. 

“The Sarfaesi Act could not be accommodated because at this point of time, the most important issue is the Covid-19 pandemic and how to go about it. The Act is also important that a full-fledged session discussion during that time will be far better than now,” the speaker stated.

Besides one hour discussion on Covid-19 and another hour of question hour, there are government bills, committee reports that need to be laid down etc., he added.

Commissioner and Secretary, NLA Secretariat, Dr. P J Antony informed that the questions were mostly related to Health department, followed by Education department, National Highway and related issues.

He also pointed out that there would not be a public gallery entry this time. Those who have to necessarily attend the session will be accommodated in the public gallery. The officer also said that N95 mask will be given to each member, and a copy of SOP, which is inclusive of wearing mask compulsorily, will be handed to the members. Besides, a detailed bulletin of dos and don’ts will be issued, he said.

He added that meticulous arrangements would be made for the Assembly session, maintaining SOPs for Covid-19.

By Our Correspondent Updated: Jul 23, 2020 9:34:05 pm