New Delhi: Large display screens, audio consoles, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation in the air conditioning system, special cables connecting the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha for transmission of audio-visual signals, polycarbonate separators — the monsoon session of Parliament, which is likely to be called by the second week of September, will have many firsts.
The changes are part of efforts to keep parliamentarians safe from Covid-19 transmission.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi told ThePrint that the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) will meet soon to decide on the session schedule.
“I will be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah next week, following which the CCPA meeting will be called,” Joshi said. “As of now, I can only say that the session will happen before 22 September.”
According to convention, Parliament officials said, once the CCPA meets and decides on the session schedule, 15 days have to be given to the MPs to submit notices and other work.
“If the convention is followed, the monsoon session can be called only next month,” said an official, who did not want to be named.
First session amid pandemic
Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha don’t want to be caught unawares and have begun making arrangements to ensure the safety of MPs.
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Parliament sources said Rajya Sabha chairman M. Venkaih Naidu has directed officials to ensure all arrangements — for testing, rehearsal and final inspection — are in place in the Upper House by the third week of August.
According to the arrangements being firmed up, the Rajya Sabha chamber and galleries and Lok Sabha chamber will be used for seating the members during the monsoon session. This includes 60 members in the chamber and 51 in the galleries of the Rajya Sabha (leaving out the first row), in line with social distancing norms, and the remaining 132 (factoring in bypolls for two seats) in the Lok Sabha chamber.
Various parties will be allotted seats in the chamber and galleries of the Rajya Sabha based on their respective strengths. Those who can’t be accommodated in Rajya Sabha because of space issues will be seated in the chamber of Lok Sabha in two blocks meant for ruling parties and the others.
In the Rajya Sabha chamber, seats will be earmarked for the Prime Minister, Leader of the House, Leader of the Opposition and leaders of other parties. Former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and H.D. Deve Gowda will also have earmarked seats in the chamber of the House. Other ministers will be seated in the seats meant for the ruling party.
“We are considering two options. First is to hold Lok Sabha in the morning and Rajya Sabha in the afternoon. Or holding the meetings of the two Houses on alternate days,” a second official said. “A final call on this will be taken by the CCPA and the parliamentary affairs minister.”
Many firsts in monsoon session
The monsoon session of Parliament will see many firsts. This includes using the chambers and the galleries of both Houses for holding the session to ensure that members are seated with adequate distance between them.
Besides, four large display screens of 85” size each in the chamber and another six of 40” size each in the four galleries of the House are being installed to enable members to watch the proceedings conveniently.
“All the seats in the galleries are being fitted with consoles to enable participation of members in the proceedings of the House from their seats,” a Rajya Sabha official said. “Placards will indicate the parties accommodated in each gallery of the Rajya Sabha.”
Special cables are being laid connecting the two Houses of Parliament for transmitting audio-visual signals of the proceedings both ways without any time lag to enable real-time participation of members seated in the two Houses.
Polycarbonate sheets will separate the official gallery of the Rajya Sabha from the chamber as both are in proximity.
Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation in the air conditioning system of Rajya Sabha for killing the bacteria and virus in air supply is also under consideration.
Seating in the officials’ gallery and press gallery will also be in conformity with social distancing norms, each accommodating 15. Only a limited number of secretariat officials will be seated for taking verbatim note of proceedings.
The three interpretation booths of Rajya Sabha will be integrated with audio systems for simultaneous interpretation for the benefit of the members seated in both the Houses.
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