Bhubaneswar, November 23: Amid strong opposition from the BJP and the Congress, the Odisha Essential Services (Maintenance) Act Amendment Bill that has the provision of imprisonment for striking government employees was passed in the assembly on Monday.

The Bill, moved by Minister of State for Home DS Mishra on behalf of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, was opposed by the members of the BJP and Congress for the penal provisions it has. Also Read | Pune’s Jupiter Hospital Performs India’s First-Ever Intestine Transplant on COVID-19-Infected Boy, Father Donates 200cm of Organ to Save Son’s Life.

The Bill states that any person found instigating and funding illegal strikes henceforth, will be punishable with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to one year and/or imposed a fine up to Rs 5,000.

Besides, the new legislation also has the provision to prohibit strikes by any people employed in any essential service such as the Fire Services Department, Excise, Forest, Prison, Reforms and Electronics, among others.

Any strike declared by the employees after the passing of the Bill would be considered illegal, as per the provisions. Mishra defended the Bill, saying that keeping in view the interests of the citizens, the government introduced this amendment so that they are not deprived of essential services.

"This bill will ensure no citizen is left out of services," he said.

The opposition alleged that it was an attempt to suppress the voice of the workers as they would not be able to put forth their demands even in a democratic manner.

Leader of Opposition PK Naik of the BJP said it is shocking to see the government was bringing such an amendment in the ESMA Act, 1988.

Congress MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati criticised the government and said that the Bill is aimed to suppress the people's voice. Also Read | MNS Leader Jameel Shaikh Shot Dead in Thane, Second Party Member to be Killed in Less Than a Month.

"Though the BJD remained in power for 21 years, it has failed to provide teachers to schools, doctors to hospitals. Therefore, people are now coming to the streets in protest," he alleged. "The situation in Odisha is worse than what is being witnessed in Pakistan. People cannot do strikes, they cannot stage road blockades, there will be no bandh in any district. This Bill has been brought to exercise power and threaten the citizens of Odisha," he added.

The House also passed the Odisha Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and Odisha Local Fund Audit (Amendment) Bill, 2020, moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister BK Arukha and Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari, respectively.

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