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Two-day Maharashtra monsoon session begins with COVID-19 prevention norms

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Mumbai, Sep 07: The two-day monsoon session of the Maharashtra Assembly began on Monday with Deputy Speaker Narhari Zhirwal asking members to observe physical distancing and wear face masks in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Uddhav Thackeray

As part of the physical distancing protocols, Zhirwal asked members not to sit on chairs having a 'cross' sign. Only one member was seated in the seating area for two. Members were also seated in the students and visitors gallery to ensure physical distancing among them.

The deputy speaker also asked members to keep their masks on while speaking in the House. He presided over the House proceedings since Speaker Nana Patole is indisposed as he tested positive for coronavirus last week.

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After the session began, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar tabled ordinances related to amendments to GST and contingency fund. Ordinances pertaining to rural development and urban development departments for postponement of elections to local bodies and mayoral posts due to the pandemic were also tabled along with other bills and papers.

Pawar tabled the supplementary demands for 2020-21. The debate on these demands will be taken up on Tuesday before their passage. Zhirwal also announced the panel of presiding officers for two days - Balaji Kinikar (Shiv Sena), Daulat Daroda (NCP), Sangram Thopte (Congress) and Kalidas Kolambkar (BJP). The state government has put in place a slew of measures to ensure members do not contract COVID-19 and House proceedings go on without any hindrance.

Compulsory antigen tests for legislators, distribution of COVID-19 kits and new seating arrangements to ensure physical distancing among members are some of the measures undertaken for the two-day session, Vidhan Bhavan officials earlier said.

The shortest-ever monsoon session in the history of the Maharashtra legislature is taking place in the backdrop of a raging COVID-19 pandemic which has already infected more than nine lakh people in the state. There will be no question hour, calling attention and debates during the session, state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anil Parab said last week.

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