Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu on Monday held extensive discussions on ensuring the health safety of the members with Union Secretaries of Home, Health and Defence Research besides DG, ICMR.
The Monsoon Session of Parliament commences on September 14, 2020.
Ahead of the session, the Rajya Sabha Chairman raised several issues and sought clarifications from the concerned about the health safety and hassle-free travel of members of Rajya Sabha.
Regarding quarantine requirements in different states on the return of members after attending the session, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla assured M. Venkaiah Naidu that the matter will be taken up with States/UTs to enable travel of MPs without any difficulty.
This issue was discussed in the context of Government employees on duty not being required to undergo quarantine in the States/UTs.
After detailed discussions, the Chairman noted that all members of Parliament should get tested for Covid-19 without fail in their own interest and that of fellow members as well.
It was also felt that family members, personnel staff including drivers of members of Rajya Sabha should also get tested for Covid-19 to avoid any risk of possible infection.
All employees and staff of the Secretariat including security personnel and media persons covering the proceedings of the House should also get tested.
This applies to the personal staff of Ministers as well. ICMR will make necessary arrangements for testing of all, as required.
Home Secretary suggested that members of Parliament should get tested within 72 hours of the commencement of the Session and those coming from different parts of the country wait for the results before undertaking travel.
Those getting positive on arrival in Delhi should quarantine themselves and those testing positive during the session should not attend the House.
Responding to the query of Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on the consequences of members wearing masks for the full duration of the session each day, Dr. Balaram Bhargava, DG, Indian Council of Medical Research clarified that wearing masks continuously for 12 hours is absolutely safe.
He further suggested that members of Parliament may speak while wearing the masks to minimize the spread of the virus.
Dr. Balaram Bhargava said that though the seating arrangements in the Rajya Sabha chamber and galleries have been made complying with the physical distancing norm, members should speak seated to avoid dispersal of aerosols.
It has been decided that air of air conditioners will be exchanged six times every day to avoid any possible infection.
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan suggested that the movement of members of Parliament in the chambers of both the Houses may be made unidirectional to avoid face to face interactions.
He informed that the Ministry of Health will make available short video clips to all the MPs on awareness about COVID infections, wearing masks and the attendant advantages, etc.
Rajya Sabha Chairman directed the secretariat officials to ensure only minimum movement of people in the Parliament House premises in consultation with the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
He also suggested that entry into the Central Hall of Parliament should be limited to members of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha and that too, only when the respective House is in session.
Secretary, Defence Research and Chairman DRDO Dr. Satish Reddy gave a detailed account of the sanitization services to be provided by DRDO.
These include the provision of ultraviolet boxes to sanitize various parliamentary papers to be handled by the Chairman and the members.
Sanitization of footwear and even the cars to be used by the members and those provided by the Secretariat will also be sanitized by providing mats of required dimensions soaked in Hypochloride gel placed in troughs.
DRDO will also provide multi-utility COVID kits to all MPs. Each kit will contain disposable Three-ply masks (40), N-95 masks without a wall (5), 20 bottles of sanitizers of 50 ml each, Face shields made of polypropylene (not for use in the chamber of the House), gloves (40), touch-free hook (to open and close doors without touching them), sea buck Thorne tea bags which enhance immunity and herbal sanitation wipes (a variant of tissue papers).
Marshals standing on both sides of the Chairman have been advised to wear both masks and face shields while assisting the Chairman.