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Assembly session to follow COVID protocols

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, Aug 22 - As the summer session of Assam Legislative Assembly, scheduled to be held for four days with effect from August 31, will be held amidst the coronavirus pandemic, steps have been taken for strict maintenance of the COVID protocols and at any given point of time, not more than 50 per cent of the members will be present in the House.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Assembly Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami said that he had discussion with leaders of all the legislative parties and sought their cooperation to ensure that all members strictly maintain the COVID protocols. He said that they have decided to go ahead with holding the summer session to ensure that the rule of holding three sessions of the House in a year is not broken.

�It was decided that there would be at least three sessions of the House in a year � budget session, summer session and winter session. As we decided not to break the rules, it was decided that a short session will be held by maintaining the COVID protocols from August 31,� he added.

Goswami said all the parties have agreed to cooperate in maintenance of the COVID protocols. He said at any given point of time, not more than 50 per cent of the members would be present inside the House and the other members can stay in the Central Hall, lobby or in their own legislative party rooms. With that arrangement, proper social distancing can be maintained, he added.

Similarly, all the ministers will not be present inside the House at the same time. �The ministers will stay in their own rooms and they will come inside the House only when they have to reply to a question,� Goswami said.

The Assembly Speaker said that normally, the House is full only during the Question Hour and that is why, the chief whips of the legislative parties would decide which member would ask supplementary questions and accordingly, the members would come inside the House.

There is a rule in the Assembly that any member or minister can speak only from his/her allotted seat. But that rule has been relaxed this time to maintain social distancing. The number of supplementary questions will also be reduced for the ensuing session of the House.

Body temperature of all the members will be checked before they enter the House, while everyone will have to wear mask. Similarly, social distancing will be maintained in the officers gallery.

The Assembly premises are being sanitized regularly and rapid tests of all the staff are also being carried out. A few positive cases have been found among the Assembly staff and they have been isolated immediately, the Speaker said.

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