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Budget session on in Arunachal

Itanagar, July 25: The budget session of the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly got off to a shaky start today with newly elected Speaker Nabam Rebia finding it difficult to keep control over MLAs speaking beyond their stipulated time.

The budget was, however, not presented on the first day. The session began with the tabling of the state information commission’s report for 2006-2012 before the question hour.

Leader of the Opposition, BJP’s Tamiyo Taga, led the hour-long question hour, asking state education minister Tapang Taloh whether private schools were operating without proper registration.

Taloh answered Taga’s question but ended up digressing from the issue, which led Taga to remark that the “minister failed to understand the question”.

BJP legislator Tesam Pongte’s question to health minister Kalikho Pul on shortage of specialist doctors, medical staff and equipment in Changlang district hospital yielded a similar result.

Known for making lengthy speeches, Pul made several long-winding statements about the need to upgrade health facilities across the state and not just in one district and was rapped by the Speaker about his failure to address the question directly.

Passang Sona, a leader of the People’s Party of Arunachal, who wished to raise a question on health facilities, said: “Hearing the minister’s dukh bhari dastaan (tale of sorrow) about the state of affairs in the health department, I have nothing left to ask”.

Rebia, who was elected to the Speaker’s post in the last Assembly session in June, had to keep interjecting as members tried to raise new questions even after answers were given. That the ministers kept wavering from the crux of the answers too often did not help him to maintain order in the house.

Amidst the confusion, some important information did manage to trickle down.

It was brought to light that there is a shortage of 1,971 medical staff across the state, including specialist surgeons, pharmacists and 1,304 nurses.

While there has been a renewed focus on the state’s education sector in Tuki’s second stint as chief minister, Taloh, quoting available data, said over 100 private schools in seven districts were operating without proper registration, with Papum Pare district having the highest unregistered schools of 58. State capital Itanagar is situated in the district.

In response to an unstarred question from BJP legislator Kento Rina, power minister Tanga Byaling said the state suffers from a power shortfall of 156 million units annually.

The deficit has led the power department to carry out phased power cuts to avoid incurring an extra Rs 62.4 crore expense to buy more power in addition to the annual budget provision of Rs 180.41 crore.

Byaling said the Union ministry of new and renewable energy has agreed to support 27 renovation and modernisation schemes for efficient micro, mini and small hydro projects in the state.


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