The two-day budget session of the Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly began on Tuesday amid stringent restrictions imposed by the authorities in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
Majority of the members attended the session wearing face masks and special seating arrangements were made in the House to ensure adequate social distancing among the members.
Chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, some of his cabinet colleagues, however, were seen without the face masks.
Members of the opposition Telugu Desam Party, led by N Chandrababu Naidu, attended the session by wearing black dress to protest against the alleged witch-hunting of the party leaders by the state government by arresting senior TDP leaders in the last few days.
For the first time in the history of any state legislature in the country, Governor Biswabhushan Harichandan addressed the members of the legislative assembly as well as legislative council through video conferencing from Raj Bhavan.
Unlike in the past when the members of the assembly and council used to sit in the same hall to be jointly addressed by the Governor, this time the house authorities ensured that the members of the upper and lower houses sat in their respective houses, as the Governor’s speech was beamed live on the big screens.
The Governor said the state government was committed to the decentralisation of administration so as to ensure uniform development of all the regions in the state. He asserted that the executive capital would be shifted to Visakhapatnam, while Amaravati would be retained as legislative capital and Kurnool would be made judicial capital.
“At present, the three capitals bill is pending in the legislative process. I am confident that the bill would be approved soon,” he said.
The state’s economy, the Governor added, had shown tremendous resilience within the context of a global slowdown, even in pre-Covid-19 times. Andhra Pradesh registered an economic growth rate of 8.16% in 2019-20, the Governor said, adding this is above the national average of 5% over the same period.
The Governor also touched upon the development and welfare programmes initiated by the state government in the last one year in tune with the Navaratnalu (nine jewels) – a set of nine promises made in the election manifesto of the YSR Congress party.
On the steps taken to fight the Covid-19 menace, the Governor impressed upon the house that the government has been taking stringent measures to contain the spread of the disease by stepping up tests and bringing down the death rate.
Apart from sanitising every seat in the assembly and council halls, the health department authorities conducted Covid-19 tests on the MLAs and MLCs who had not undergone the tests earlier.