The upcoming winter session of Odisha Assembly will be held without Covid-19 restrictions, Assembly Speaker B.K. Arukha said on Monday.
Speaking to mediapersons here, Arukha said that an all-party meeting was held for the smooth conduct of the House during the winter session beginning November 24.
“The restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 period have been lifted. Like earlier, all the members can occupy their respective seats. The press gallery will also be opened for mediapersons,” he said.
The Speaker also informed that electronic media will be allowed in the House to cover the question hour. The MLAs, who are unwell, can attend the Assembly through video conferencing with prior written approval.
Apart from the first day, the Assembly will function from 10.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The House will begin at 11 a.m. on the first day, he Arukha said.
Meanwhile, leader of opposition Jayanarayan Mishra of the BJP said his party has opposed the move to allow MLAs to attend the Assembly session in virtual mode.
He alleged that the virtual option for MLAs is being allowed to facilitate online attendance for Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik from his residence.
“Covid cases have declined in the country. Therefore, there is no need for such a provision. All members are expected to remain present in the House during a session,” the BJP legislator said.
The winter session will commence on November 24 and continue till December 31. As per schedule, the supplementary budget for the financial year 2022-23 will be presented before the House on the first day of the session.
The session will have 33 working days, of which six have been marked for private members’ business days. There will be no meetings on five Sundays.
Notably, since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic till the last session, the Assembly functioned under Civid-19 restrictions. MLAs were attending the proceedings from different galleries of the House, district headquarters and the secretariat. Most of the time, Patnaik was attending the house virtually.
All members and their staff, officials and journalists were undergoing Covid tests prior to the beginning of the sessions.