Maharashtra MLAs set to attend two-day monsoon session in full COVID armour

The true import of Mission Begin Again will strike home for the 288 members of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and the 60 members of the Maharashtra Legislative Council (18 members are retired), as they troop in to work. They will attend the two-day monsoon session, clad in pandemic gear - sporting masks and face shields and armed with sanitisers. Before attending the session, slated for September 7 and 8, all members, including the chief minister and his council of ministers will have to undergo real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests on September 6 and only those testing negative for Covid-19 will be permitted to participate in the proceedings.

The RT-PCR test is primarily based on PCR, a process that repeatedly copies and amplifies the specific genetic fragments of the virus, ensuring that there is enough sample to conduct the analysis.

The legislature secretariat will provide safety kits, comprising face shields, masks, gloves and sanitisers to all members, use of which will be binding for those entering the premises. There will be no handshakes, nor will standing around in groups, chatting, be permitted, to avoid gatherings and direct contact.

In order to maintain social distancing, the secretariat will make seating arrangements for members in the assembly and council halls, as well as in the student gallery, so that crowding can be avoided. This was decided on Tuesday, at the meetings of the business advisory committees of the state assembly and council. The members decided to conduct proceedings by strictly adhering to safety measures and protocols. The group leaders of all parties are expected to issue instructions on caring for members with comorbidities.

Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic situation, the monsoon session, which was to take place on June 22, was postponed to August 3, but with the rising number of Covid-19 cases, it was further deferred, to September 7. It was mandatory to convene a session in six months, as the budget session was wound up on March 14, because of the outbreak of the crisis.

According to the Chief Minister's Office, the personal assistants (PAs) of legislators will not be allowed entry to the legislature. However, the secretariat will make seating arrangements for these PAs and drivers, while snacks will be provided in the area adjoining the legislature, in water-proof tents.

State Legislature Secretary Rajendra Bhagwat said, apart from the resolution to pay tribute to sitting and former members who passed away, the legislative business will also include unstarred questions, supplementary demand and seven government bills, including the appropriation bill.

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