Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Thursday said the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament will be historic and will try to digitalise Parliament operations as much as possible in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taking journalists through the Lok Sabha chamber, Birla showed the arrangements, including the plastic partitions between the seats, to ensure social distancing among the members during the sitting of the House.
He also showed how the members sitting in the Rajya Sabha chamber can participate in the proceedings.
Arrangements for the seating of 257 Lok Sabha members while following social distancing norms have been made in the chamber of the Lower House itself, while 172 members will sit in the gallery.
Similarly, 60 members will sit in the Rajya Sabha chamber and 51 in the gallery.
“We have discussed it with all the parties. Seats have been allocated on the basis of a party”s strength in the House. Every party”s leader in the House will decide who will sit where,” Birla said.
Sharing the details of the arrangements made for holding the session under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lok Sabha speaker, who is also the custodian of the Parliament complex, said all guidelines issued by the health ministry will be adhered to during the session.
Everyone including the MPs, who are supposed to enter the Parliament building during the session, will have to undergo the RT-PCR test for COVID-19 at least 72 hours before the start of the session, he added.
Applauding the parliamentarians for their cooperation, Birla said for the first time in the history of Parliament, all members have sent their questions online, 62 per cent of Parliament operations have been digitalised and efforts will be to make it 100 per cent during the upcoming session.
“This session will be a historic one as it is being held in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our effort is to conduct the session as per the guidelines issued in the wake of the pandemic and also to fulfil our constitutional responsibility,” he added.
On the Question Hour, he said written questions can be asked and will be answered but not oral questions and hence, there will be no Question Hour and the government had also requested for the same.
He further said the duration of the Zero Hour will be half-an-hour.
On opposition leaders asking about the deputy speaker”s election, Birla said it is for the House and the government to decide.
The monsoon session of Parliament is scheduled from September 14 to October 1.
Hectic preparations are underway for the session with several first-time measures being taken because of the pandemic, such as testing of MPs, staggered seating arrangements in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and the use of both chambers and galleries to accommodate the members.