Monsoon Session of Parliament to be marked by several firsts in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic

RSTV Bureau
New Delhi: Parliament of India. (PTI photo)

New Delhi: Parliament of India.
(PTI photo)

 Rajya Sabha Chairman has directed full preparedness for the Monsoon Session of Parliament by the third week of August.Large display screens, consoles for participation from galleries, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, special cables between the two Houses, polycarbonate separators are some of the measures that will be implemented.

Rajya Sabha Secretariat has been working overtime for the last two weeks to ensure full preparedness by the third week of this month for the coming Monsoon Session of Parliament.

To comply with the direction of the Chairman M.Venkaiah Naidu, work is in progress at a fast pace for ensuring several additional installations in the prescribed time like four large display screens in the chamber of the House, another six small screens in the four galleries of the House, audio consoles in the galleries, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, special cables connecting the two Houses for transmission of audio-visual signals, polycarbonate sheet separating the Official Gallery from the chamber of the House, etc.

All these arrangements mark the first of its kind session to be held in compliance with the social distancing norms under the coronavirus-induced restrictions. Using the chambers and the galleries of both the Houses for holding the session being the major first of its kind in the history of the Indian Parliament since 1952.

Rajya Sabha Chairman M.Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla at a meeting on the 17th of last month, after detailed examination of various options for holding the monsoon session, decided on using the chambers and galleries of both the Houses for enabling the monsoon session under the prevailing restrictions. Subsequently, senior officials of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat held detailed discussions with all concerned agencies and firmed up the special arrangements to be made and they are being worked upon.

The Chairman directed to ensure all arrangements to be in place by the third week of this month for testing, rehearsal, and final inspection.

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu addressing Rajya Sabha members (Twitter image)

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu addressing Rajya Sabha members (Twitter image)

As per the arrangements firmed up, the Rajya Sabha chamber and galleries and Lok Sabha chamber will be used for seating the members of the House during the monsoon session. This includes; 60 members in the chamber and 51 in the galleries of Rajya Sabha (leaving out the first row) as per the social distancing norm and the remaining 132 (including bye-polls for two seats) in the chamber of Lok Sabha.

Various parties will be allotted seats in the chamber and galleries of Rajya Sabha based on respective strength and the remaining 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 and former Leaders of the House Dr. Manmohan Singh and H.D.Deve Gowda besides Ramvilas Paswan and Ramdas Atshawale, being Ministers and members of the House will also have earmarked seats in the chamber of the House. Other ministers will be seated in the seats meant for the ruling party.

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 of the House 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. 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 Officials Gallery of Rajya Sabha from the chamber as both are in close proximity.

Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation system 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 the social distancing norm, each accommodating 15. Only a limited number of secretariat officials will be seated at the Table of the House and the Reporters (for taking verbatim note of proceedings of the House) will be accommodated in the special box meant for foreign dignitaries.

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.

RSTV and LSTV, through their existing arrangements in both the Houses, will enable live telecast of the proceedings of the two Houses besides displaying the proceedings of each of the Houses on the screens in the other House.

Rajya Sabha Chairman M.Venkaiah Naidu also directed the secretariat officials to minimise the need for the members to physically handle various papers by ensuring necessary arrangements.