Hemant govt tables Rs 2,584 cr supplementary budget on Day One of monsoon session
The Hemant Soren government tabled a supplementary budget to the tune of Rs 2,584.83 crore on Day One of the monsoon session which commenced on Friday amid heightened safety protocols in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
State finance minister Rameshwar Oraon tabled the budget amid protests by members of the Opposition over the Jharkhand Land Mutation Bill, 2020, which had not been tabled in the House.
The bill, that critics say seeks to unfairly shield officials and bureaucrats in case of wrongdoing, is now unlikely to be tabled during the monsoon session as several MLAs of Congress, which is a partner in the ruling alliance, have also demanded changes in the draft okayed by the cabinet.
The supplementary demand for grants for 2020-21 fiscal included Rs 912.34 crore for home, jail and disaster management departments, Rs 548.87 crore for the rural development department, Rs 363.00 crore for the urban development department and Rs 312.26 crore for the women and child development department.
Four ordinances were also tabled. These were the Jharkhand Motor Vehicles Taxation Ordinance 2020, Jharkhand Mineral Bearing Lands (Covid-19 pandemic cess) Ordinance, Jharkhand GST Amendment Ordinance 2020 and the Jharkhand Value Added Tax (VAT) Amendment, 2020.
The House was adjourned after an hour’s business before lunch till Monday after chief minister Hemant Soren’s speech to condole the recent demise of several leaders, including former president Pranab Mukherjee and Bermo MLA Rajendra Prasad Singh.
The monsoon session, the first sitting of the House since the coronavirus outbreak in March, was held amid various safety precautions, including mandatory distancing among MLAs as they were seated.
While all wore masks, many even put on face shields for added precaution. Assembly sources maintained that hand sanitisers had been kept at all key places within the premises while everyone was allowed entry after thermal scanning.
The 81-member House now has an effective strength of 79 MLAs. In all, 70 MLAs were in attendance on Friday. Among the absentees, at least three MLAs —two of Congress—Amba Prasad (Barkagaon) and Naman Bixal Kongari (Kolebira) _ and one BJP _ Neelkant Munda (Khunti) _ are in isolation after having tested positive for Covid-19.
Before the start of proceedings, chief minister Hemant Soren appealed to all for the smooth conduct of the House in the interest of the state. “The monsoon session is beginning from today amid the ongoing pandemic. I am hopeful that all MLAs will contribute positively for a healthy session to provide new direction to the state,” he tweeted.
Health minister Banna Gupta said the state government would welcome constructive criticism but appealed to the Opposition to refrain from creating a ruckus.
On issues like the land mutation bill and law and order, he said, “We won’t shy away from taking questions as discussion is the basis for a healthy democracy. We will try to answer every MLA’s queries and concerns in a civilised manner. We are expecting the same in return.”
Speaking to reporters briefly after the session, BJP’s Babulal Marandi criticised the state government for poor handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and giving criminals a free run. He also took a dig at the Hemant Soren government for trying to safeguard babus and land sharks by introducing the land mutation bill. “This government is continuously exposing its anti-poor, anti-tribal and anti-people face,” he alleged.