Andhra Pradesh Legislature became the first state Assembly in the country to hold its sitting under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic as the Budget Session began on Tuesday amid unprecedented measures.
Governor Biswabhushan Harichandan addressed the state Legislature through video conferencing from Raj Bhavan to formally mark the beginning of the session. This is perhaps the first time in the history of any state Legislature in the country that the Governor remotely delivered the customary address.
Members of the Assembly and Council sat in their respective Houses as the Governor’s address was beamed live on the screens.
Wearing face masks the Legislators sat as per the new seating arrangement to ensure social distancing. Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, some of his cabinet colleagues and MLAs, however, were seen without masks.
The authorities made special arrangements to ensure strict adherence to the guidelines to contain spread of COVID-19.
Every seat in the Assembly and Council was sanitized while health department has made arrangements to conduct COVID-19 tests on those Legislators who had not undergone the tests earlier.
Officials said no visitors will be allowed during this session while the media would be allowed to cover the proceedings only from the press gallery.
Usually the budget session lasts for at least two weeks, but this time it is likely to be a short affair in view of the COVID-19 situation.
For the first time the Budget is being presented on the very first day of the session.
Finance Minister B. Rajendranath will present the Budget for 2020-21 in the Assembly in the afternoon session.
In the Council, leader of the House and Deputy Chief Minister P. Subhash Chandra Bose will present the budget.
Agriculture Budget will be presented separately by Agriculture Minister Kanna Babu in the Assembly and the same will be tabled in the Council by Minister for Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Mopidevi Venkatramna.
The session is likely to conclude in two days with the discussion on the Budget and passing of the Appropriation Bill on Wednesday.
Business Advisory Committee (BAC) headed by Speaker T. Seetharam will meet after the Governor’s address to decide the duration and the agenda of the session.
The government could not present the full budget in March due to the coronavirus crisis. It instead issued an ordinance for vote on account for the three month period ending June 30.