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Two bills passed, ruckus over roads

Ranchi, Dec. 18: The state Assembly today passed the marriage and the contingency fund amendment bills amidst a walkout by Opposition members, who were angry with the low turnout in treasury benches in the second half.

The ruling combine of JMM-Congress-RJD was left red in the face when just five MLAs showed up when the winter session resumed at 2pm. The bell kept ringing for 48 minutes, but the treasury benches remained empty. Angry, 15 Opposition MLAs walked out, claiming that the government had no intention to discuss public issues.

Soon after parliamentary affair minister Rajendra Prasad Singh swung into action and went around gathering required number of MLAs to begin the session. Finally, MLAs from the ruling side started turning up, but Opposition refused to join the proceedings.

There were 28 members in the House when Annapurna Devi and Singh tabled the Jharkhand Marriage Bill and the Jharkhand Contingency Fund Amendment Bill, respectively. The legislations were passed without any debate.

“We waited for over half an hour, but only a couple of MLAs from the treasury were present. It shows the seriousness of the government,” said BJP MLA and former Speaker C.P. Singh.

Later, Assembly Speaker Shashank Shekhar Bhokta also criticised the MLAs for playing truant. “Sometimes such situations occur when the House falls short of quorum. But when it becomes a tendency, it is bad,” he said.

Minister Singh admitted that the government could not table the important Jharkhand Commercial Tax Amendment Bill in the absence of the Opposition.

The first half was also marked by protests. Legislators cutting across party lines entered the Well of the House to complain against poor quality of rural roads that are being built in their constituencies under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).

The issue was raised by Congress member Sarfaraz Ahmad, who, through a short notice question, complained that against the target of 13,448km rural roads in 2012, barely 7,896km had been built. Moreover, the National Quality Monitors had expressed strong reservations against the substandard quality of work, he claimed.

In reply, rural works minister Simon Marandi said against the target of 17,000km roads, 9,083km had already been built. He also claimed that quality tests were done in three stages and the National Quality Monitors noted poor quality only in 93 cases, which have been rectified. Further, 94 contractors have been debarred from taking further work orders and five contractors have been blacklisted.

Not satisfied with his answer, the members entered the Well of the House and raised slogans even as the minister repeatedly said he was ready to order a probe into reported irregularities in Giridih.

Finally, Rajendra Prasad Singh intervened and asked the MLAs to submit a list of all bad quality roads by 2pm and promised to get them examined by a competent person.

“My government wants good quality works. I assure the House that laxity on anyone’s part will not be tolerated. The culprits will be taken to task,” he added.

On the other hand, replying to another question raised by Vishnu Bhaiya of JMM, Marandi admitted that he did not have funds to construct new bridges in Jamtara Assembly constituency in the current fiscal.

Amidst all the brouhaha, BJP’s C.P. Singh said contractors were being asked to meet the minister before securing work orders.

An angry Marandi replied, “If C.P. Singh is levelling such charges against me in the House, he should also come up with adequate proof. This kind of character assassination cannot be tolerated.”

The former Speaker also hit out at the government, saying that Ramgarh DSP had washed RJD president Lalu Prasad’s feet at Rajrappa temple yesterday.

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