On the second day of the Monsoon session, Rajya Sabha is discussing the COVID-19 management, not before witnessing multiple disruptions. The Lok Sabha hardly had any discussion as the opposition members sought "answers from the government on the Pegasus report."
On Monday, both Houses were adjourned multiple times as Opposition members raised slogans in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha
Here are the latest updates:
Chairman says Minister has covered most of the points, it's up to the members to be satisfied or not
The House takes up special mentions.
House adjourned till Thursday.
Sharad Pawar has two questions. Why not more companies produce vaccines. Two firms have expressed their interest, he says. He also asks about online education.
The Health Minister says it is being considered.
Tiruchi Siva reiterates the demand on reviving two vaccine units in TN. It is being considered, says Mr. Mandviya.
Derek O'Brien asks how many people will be vaccinated by December 2021. The Health Minister doesn't give a definitive number.
Binoy Viswom asks how many doctors and nurses succumbed to COVID-19. The Minister says they don't have the data. He suggests the ministry to keep a record.
I admit there was more to be done and still more to do in the future: Mandaviya
The Health Minister says more needs to be done. He lists out the measures taken by the government to prevent a third wave. We have a Rs. 13,000 crore package. We are getting inputs from the States.
Centre has planned 1,573 PSA oxygen plants. 316 plants have been commissioned so far and the rest will be done by August end.
The Prime Minister is in touch with the CMs and the leaders of various parties.
If we follow the protocols, we can prevent the third wave, he says.
On vaccination for children, Mr. Mandviya says two firms have already started clinical trials and a positive result will come soon.
States tried importing vaccines but couldn't. We have only one option - increase vaccine production. Vaccination will increase then.
Vaccines are provided on pro rata basis based on the population. States have the liberty to decide on the number of vaccination camps. He blames the mismanagement of the States for the shortage.
It's not appropriate to say that children will get affected more in the third wave, he says.
He explains how the government ramped up the production of medicines to treat Black Fungus. We imported 13 lakh vials. We have 10 plants producing Amphotericin B injection, he says.
He says the need for medical oxygen was less and there was a sudden increase in demand. We converted industrial oxygen manufacturing units to manufacture medical oxygen. We imported tanks for logistics and last mile connectivity. I wish the oppositon acknowledged our effort, he says.
He lists the efforts made to increase oxygen production, ventilators and oxygen concentrators.
If there is under reporting of deaths, it is by the States: Health Minister
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandviya speaks. We had informal talks with opposition MPs and we decided to have a constructive discussion, but during the discussion we saw whatever good happened, the credit went to the CMs and the PM was blamed for the shortfall, he says.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that politics has no place in this pandemic. Many States floated global tender for vaccines, but they didn't get any response.
Mr. Modi has always acknowledged the contributions of previous Prime Ministers, says Mr. Mandviya.
First case was recorded on Jan 13, 2020. Modiji had alerted us before that. Many countries approached us for medicines. We supplied medicines to over 130 countries. Even the President of America said we will not forget India for helping us tide over the first wave, he says.
Many states have 10 lakh vaccines or 15 lakh vaccines unused. But here the representatives of those states are asking me to speed up vaccination, he says.
Mr. Mandviya defends the first lockdown saying it helped ramp up our infrastructure. We believe in Vasudaiva Kutumbakam, so we provided vaccines to our neighbours.
In history, whenever there was a pandemic, more people died of starvation than of the pandemic. We have provided free foodgrains to ensure noone starved, he says.
Mr. Mandviya says his daughter is a medical intern and works in COVID ward. I understood the meaning of taali and thaali, he says.
He refutes the claims of under reporting of deaths. If there is under reporting, it is by the States and not the Union government, he says. We only compile the States data and publish them, he says.
M. Venkaiah Naidu is in the Chair. He says 26 people from 21 parties have taken part in the debate. We must give confidence to the people. There is fear among people, he says and adds some members gave constructive suggestions.
He calls the Health Minister to reply.
Let us be honest. No government has faced a pandemic: Anand Sharma
Congress member Anand Sharma says this discussion should have compassion. It should be bipartisan. Unfortunately it is not so, he says.
We are proud of our doctors and epidemologists and scientists. We became the global leaders in vaccine manufacturing in 1990s, not today, he says.
Let us be honest. No government has faced a pandemic, he says. There was fatigue and some complacency after the first wave, therefore the administration was not ready. We cannot be in denial, we cannot prepare for the future then, he adds.
We were not prepared for the second wave. We can live in denial, he says. Many facilities created during first wave were deactivated, he notes.
He speaks about oxygen shortage. We were not in a position to save people. This is the truth, he says. Why it happened and how, no one has the answers. But the reality is that patients and doctors died in some of the big hospitals in Delhi.
Excess deaths were reported in many places. The government should reveal how many of these deaths were due to COVID-19. Let the governement also decide on compensation. Let's not wait for Supreme Court to direct us, he says.
This pandemic has resulted in mental health issues among women, poor and children. How many children have dropped out from school? Do we have an estimate, he asks. He also speaks about lack on internet penetration making virtual classes difficult.
More than 10 crore migrant workers are there. In the second wave, 3 crore migrant workers had to go back. The national database of migrant workers is yet to be completed.
The government provided three stimulus packages. In actuals, it is only 1.84% of the GDP, the rest are fiscals, he says.
There was a delay in placing orders for vaccines. Nobody denies the fact we are a country with 140 crore population. So we have to prepare for it. We have not been able to reach 9% of population vaccinated, he says.
I was fully vaccinated, still I had to be admitted for COVID-19, says Anand Sharma. We have to be careful, he says.
Let us not have a repeat of what happened earlier, he says in his concluding remarks.
We were the first to ban flights from China: Puri
Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri says every death is regratable. "A lie travels around the globe while the truth still puts on its shoes." He targets the opposition with the popular saying. The enemy here is the virus, not the governments, he adds. The mortality of COVID-19 is much lower than SARS. He refutes the opposition charges that the government lost precious time. "We were the first to ban flights from China," he says.
You are complaining us for vaccines. Buying vaccines is not easy. We had only two manufactures. The Congress questioned us when we were accelerating approval. Who promoted vaccine hesitancy, he asks. We are obliged to provide vaccines to other countries. You can't make politics out of it, he says.
Who are the people who said let the States procure vaccine? It was two chief ministers. The Prime Minister only agreed. We took it over because the States were not able to procure it themselves. He says the MPs of Kerala and Maharashtra should look at their State first.
BJP MP Dr. Anil Jain says as a medical practitioner he can say that doctors are still learning about the disease. Despite limited resources, Prime Minister batted on the front foot. The first meeting was held on January 9, 2020.
This pandemic was a blessing a disguise. Not one N95 mask was made in India, but now lakhs are made and supplied to the world.
Union Minister Ramdas Athwale (RPI-A) says he told "Go Corona Go" but COVID came to me. I was also admitted to hospital in Mumbai for 10 days. In his usual style, he recites a shayar praising the Union government.
CPI MP Binoy Viswam asks what happened to the PM CARES fund? What happened to that money? How much money went towards the vaccination campaign? According to Vinayji, everything is a success in this country. But 5 lakh people died. Don't accuse us of ideological jaundice. If that jaundice is there, you are the victims.
BJP MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe wonders when will there be a vaccine for this "ideological jaundice". He says when PM appealed to people to celebrate front line warriors, they had a problem. Now, they are all thanking the frontline workers in their speeches.
Some countries like the Phillipines curtailed democracy under the pretext of the pandemic. We did not do that... We have let democracy work, he says.
Sreyams Kumar (LJD) says there is a need to learn lessons from the second wave to avoid crises like the oxygen shortage. He provides a slew of suggestions including door-to-door vaccination, encouraging working near home, and ramping up the medical infrastructure.
Sushil Kumar Gupta (AAP) lauds Arvind Kejriwal's home isolation scheme and plasma bank initiatives. He says Delhi allocates 13% for health. The Centre should learn from Delhi, he says. The country's health won't change by changing the Health Minister. The entire cabinet should take responsibility, he says.
Vaiko (MDMK) says the very mention of corona chills the spine of people. He lists the past pandemics and says the COVID-19 was the worst of all. He warns there will be a fourth wave too.
Rich became richer: SAD
The pandemic has turned rich richer while others lost their homes and families, says Sardar Balwinder Singh Bhunder (SAD). Let there not be a third wave, but we have to be prepared.
He lauds the service of Gurdwaras, which helped many people with food, medicine and treatment.
He says the government should consider micro containment instead of a local lockdown.
Parents with young children should be vaccinated on priority: Vandana Chavan
Vandana Chavan (NCP) says heart breaking were heard across India. People were stealing oxygen. There were scarcity of woods for cremation. There was shortage of medicines too, she says.
Why were the warnings of experts on possible second wave was not taken seriously, she asks. She claims the government played down the concerns of the Delta variant.
Population should be swiftly vaccinated. Vaccination of the children should be taken care of. Parents with young children should be vaccinated on priority, she says and requests for more vaccines to Maharashtra.
K. Raveendra Kumar (TDP) says the government hospitals didn't have infrastructure and the private hospitals were reluctant to take COVID cases. During the second wave, the governments have under reported deaths. He blames Andhra Pradesh government of negligence.
No compensation has been paid to the families of the deceased so far, he says.
He suggests the government to create ICUs for children.
G.K Vasan (Tamil Manila Congress) says the fear of third wave is looming large and the government should be prepared. We have a long way to go to revive the economy. The Centre and States should work together without politics.
He suggests vaccination for children and more medical infrastructure in towns and villages.
He requests the government to allot more vaccines to Tamil Nadu.
Ashok Siddarth (BSP) says Uttar Pradesh government claims All is Well, but the reality is much different. I lost my relatives and I struggled to find bed for my relatives, he says. The government refused to postpone panchayat polls.
Quoting Mr. Modi's remarks yesterday, Mr. Siddarth says this government is not doing a favour by making a Dalit a minister. It is their right. The Health Minister and the Prime Minister voiced different views on lockdown, he says.
War of words between him and Treasury Bench.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said we need 21 days to win the war against COVID-19. I want to ask the Health Minister how many 21 days do you need? One Health Minister has already been made a scapegoat. This is not a political issue. We have all lost a loved one.
Our question to the government is why are you hiding the true figures?
There is a shortage of vaccines in the country. There are riot like situations outside vaccine situations: Raut
RJD MP Manoj Sinha apologises to those who died and whose deaths are not being acknowledged.
You will say nothing happened in 70 years. This is a collective failure of all governments from 1947 till now, Mr. Sinha says.
Why are we not talking about Right to Health, without any ifs and buts. Link it to the Right to Life. No hospital will have the guts to play with it: Sinha
"That 1.5 months was a nightmare. Some members of this House just managed to survive. A student of mine passed away while I looked for a hospital bed for him," he says about the second wave.
Lok Sabha starts. MoS Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Meghwal presents the report of Business Advisory Committee.
Lok Sabha adjourns until 11 a.m. on Thursday.
July 21 will be a holiday on account of Eid.
Ramgopal Yadav (SP) says the government should have allocated 2.5% of GDP for healthcare. Had we invested more on health infrastructure, we wouldn't have lost so many lives.
We are a country of poor people. Some private hospitals were charging like five-star hotels. The situation in Uttar Pradesh was so worse that a Union Minister had to intervene, he says.
Mr. Yadav says the Parliamentary Standing Committee has been suggesting that the Health Ministry's budget should be increased to 2-2.5% of GDP. Had that been done, we would not have faced the shortage of oxygen.
He tells the Health Minister to increase the Budget. He says the amount cited as the health and family welfare Budget includes sanitation and other Ministries.
JD(U) MP Ram Nath Thakur suggests that the Budget should be increased and all officers of the Health Ministry, from top to bottom, need to wake up.
In the first wave, people used tulsi and kahda to remain healthy, he says. Before the third wave, the government should work on a war footing, he says.
The government should make such arrangements that no opportunity for complaint remains, says Mr. Thakur.
Vaccination has always been free in India: CPI-M
Elamaaram Kareem (CPI-M) thanks the frontline warriors. He blames the government for not planning ahead after the first case of COVID-19 in end of January 2020. In the second wave, a substantial part of deaths could have been avoided as they occurred due to lack of infrastructure.
Vaccination has always been free in India. This government worked for publicity. The government's flawed policy led to the Supreme Court's intervention. The dual pricing meant only the rich can buy the vaccines.
During the first wave we saw shocking images of migrant workers walking several hours. The second wave saw visuals of patients waiting outside hospitals for a bed. Families were unable to find spot to cremate their loved ones. These images will continue to haunt them, he says.
Lakhs of workers have lost their jobs. He reiterates financial help for informal sector workers who lost their livelihood, says Mr. Kareem
Time to create confidence in government: AIADMK
AIADMK's M. Thambi Durai is the next speaker. Even though COVID-19 originated in China, it had contained it well. We have the second highest number of COVID cases after the United States.
The States alone cannot tackle this pandemic. He lauds the Prime Minister for visiting vaccine manufacturing labs. Mr. Thambi Durai says vaccine should be made free and the multiple pricing of vaccines.
It is not the time to blame anyone. He also supports Mr. Siva's appeal to revive vaccine facilities.
We should create confidence among people that the government is with them. We should also ramp up the awareness. People are still not wearing mask properly.
Nobody knows when we will get the second dose. There is an ambiguity. Earlier it was 28 days, not it is more than 3 months, he says.
Revive two vaccine facilities in TN: Siva
Tiruchi Siva (DMK) is the next speaker. He begins his speech by thanking the frontline warriors. He points out aircrafts were plying even after WHO declared it a pandemic. Government lost precious 12 days, he says.
Quoting Thiruvalluvar, he says we have to address the root cause of the problem. Basic necessity was the need of oxygen. Had the MPLAD fund was not suspended, we MPs would have supported oxygen generation.
There is a vaccine facility near Chennai lying unutilised for nearly 2 years. Our CM had written to the PM to handover this facility on lease so that the State government can start manufacture vaccines. There is another unit in Ooty, which can be revived, he says and appeals to the Health Minister to consider this.
He suggests the number of vaccines should be in proportion of population. TN can vaccinate 3 lakh people per day. We need one crore vaccine, he says.
Come up with strategy to rollout vaccination for 12-18 years: BJD
Amar Patnaik (BJD) is the next speaker. All of us were ill-equipped in tackling a pandemic. None of the us - states, Centre, medical fraternity - don't know how to tackle it. The only way is to be dynamic. We have to learn and improve.
The cooperation between the Centre and State is paramount. The people's participation is most important. That is what we are following in Odisha.
Let's not forget we got vaccines because of global cooperation. The government should continue to press the developed nations to give excess doses to others.
Third wave might not be the last wave and COVID-19 may not be the last virus. We have to build more ICU beds. We have to ramp up the genome sequencing, probably in every State.
The States' contribution to SDRF can be waived. One size fit all won't work. We don't have many private hospitals. So government should allot 95% vaccines to the State, he says.
The rollout strategy for vaccinating 12-18 years should start off now, he says. Implementation should always be in the hands of the State.
PM in self congratulatory mode: Shantanu Sen
Trinamool Congress' Shantanu Sen says the government is failing to change itself so it is becoming fatal.
Before his speech, he says the TMC will protest Pegasus snooping in every possible way.
Dr. Sen says the State's hands were tied as the Centre unilaterally announced a lockdown. He says the infectivity rate in Bengal increased because of electioneering. Why have an 8-phase election, he asks.
The government opened the floodgates for corruption by variable pricing for the states and the centre. The vaccine provider, who was Z category protectee has fled from India, he says.
The Prime Minister is in self congratulatory mode. He says we have crossed the vaccination numbers compared to the US. If you look at the population ratio, we have not covered even 10%, he says.
All the states are facing acute shortage of vaccines. We are the largest vaccine producer in the world and we don't have enough vaccines for our people, he says.
His suggestions: Take up mass vaccination. Invest on ventilators for children. Build a COVID memorial. Respect the federal structure. What is wrong in learning from a lady, when she can deliver, he asks.
Lok Sabha reassembles. Protest also continue. Ministers table their statements. The Chair says the members can table their issues under matter of urgent importance and it will be considered as read.
Protest continues. House adjourned till 3 pm.
Swapan Das Gupta's three suggestions to tackle 3rd wave
Swapan Das Gupta continues his speeech. He gives three suggestion - have an open mind. The role of the State is paramount, so trust has to be established. For this we need transparancy. "If the situation is bad. we should say it is bad." The State has to be fair. "We cannot have a situation where lockdown is imposed in one place and not imposed in another place."
We need mutual cooperation. It is missing. We can't have the State going left and Centre going the right, he says. Health is a state subject and the Centre can only coordinate, he says.
Govt under reporting COVID deaths: Kharge
Rajya Sabha resumes and YSR Congress MPs are seen seated.
Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge speaks. All the parties have agreed to have a discussion on COVID. Though there were other subjects listed, you allowed a debate on COVID, which was demanded by the entire House.
When I rose to speak (before adjournment) a few members did not let me speak. You (Deputy Chairman) didn't object. This is an insult to me. I have been in Parliament for nearly 4-5 decades. I feel insulted, he says. "I feel hurt. It shouldn't happen to others," he says and proceeding to take part in the COVID-19 discussion. He pays tributes to CORONA warriors, doctors, paramedic workers, Asha workers, government employees and those who are in non-government sector.
He shows some grim photos of bodies floating in river Ganga, migrant workers walking back home and those of people waiting for oxygen.
The government claims 5.5 lakh persons have died due to COVID. This is a serious under reporting of deaths, he says. Treasury Benches oppose it.
In this country there are more than 6 lakh villages in this country. If in a village, even if five persons lost their jobs due to COVID this figure will go up more than 30 lakh deaths, he says. "There are more than 7000 towns and if only 10 persons died in each of these towns then alone more than 7 lakh people would have died. There are another 18 metropolitan cities. If all this is put together the number of deaths will far exceed the government figure of 5.5 lakh," he adds.
He blames the government for shortage in ventilator beds, oxygen, and the plight of migrant labours. He says other countries were prepared to tackle the second wave. But here, the ministers were busy campaigning. You were breaking the very rules brought by you, he says.
Mr. Kharge now turns to shortage of COVID vaccines. How much did you order was way too little and too late. You have claimed that by December the entire country would be vaccinated. But what is the situation today? Only 5. 3 per cent of the total population has received two dose.
COVID mismanagement has also destroyed the economy. Congress repeatedly wanted you to give money to the people, but you ignored.
You took steps only after the Supreme Court intervened, he says.
He ends the speech saying former Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has been made scapegoat but the PM has to take responsibility for the COVID crisis.
'Pandemic is a constant learning experience'
Rajya Sabha is to take up discussion on COVID, which has been agreed upon by majority of the opposition leaders.
BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta initiates the discussion.
We thought this (COVID) will be short lived. But that was not the case. Not only second wave, now we are expecting a third wave. The Spanish Flu caused 50,000 deaths. It is quiet clear that we are facing a long drawn struggle, he says.
This pandemic is a constant learning experience, he says. He recalls how a few members wore mask last year and the Chair objected to it.
House adjourned for 15 minutes.
Rajya Sabha reassembles. Deputy Chairperson Harivansh takes up short duration discussion on COVID-19 management.
Leader of the House Piyush Goyal requests YSR Congress MP Vijaisai Reddy to get back to the seat and take part in the discussion. Mr. Reddy has been seeking adjournment motion to press his demand for special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
Most Opposition members are seen seated.
YSR Congress leader Vijay Sai Reddy said that YSR Congress MPs will not go back to their seats till there i a discussion on special status for Andhra Pradesh.
PM concerned about Opposition's attitude
During a meeting with BJP MPs, Prime Minister expressed concern about the attitude of the opposition, especially the Congress. "He said it [Congress] still believes, it has the right to be in power, Parliamentary Affair Minister Pralhad Joshi quoted Mr. Modi has saying at the meeting.
He also told BJP MPs that the government was willing to hold discussions in both Houses of Parliament, but the opposition was showing a most irresponsible behaviour, Mr. Joshi said. - PTI
Govt defending NSO: Gaurav Gogoi
The Congress termed government's response to the Pegasus surveillance report as disappointing.
Speaking to newsagency ANI, Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi said: " Instead of ordering a probe under judicial oversight, GoI is defending NSO."
Former IT Minister had said in Parliament that an enquiry has been done into NSO by CERT-In. What happened to that probe? he wondered.
Rajya Sabha reassembles. Deputy Chairperson Harivansh is in the Chair. As soon as he proceeds with Question Hour, opposition MPs troop into the well of the House. "So you don't want the House to run," he asks.
He announces the House that there will be a discussion on COVID-19 and adjourns it.
In Rajya Sabha, MPs insist on suspension of regular business under Rule 267. The Chair doesn't permit it. Congress leader Anand Sharma requests the Chair to reconsider. "We can do away with 267 then," he says.
"You give 15-16 notices under 267. How many can I take?" Mr. Naidu responds and asks them to raise the issues during Zero Hour instead.
Protests continue. House is adjourned till 12 noon.
Jas Kaur Meena poses a question on FPO or Farmer Producer Organizations
Kailash Choudhary, MoS Agriculture, says the number of members in an FPO is not restricted on lines of gender. Larger scale of farmers involvement would mean more profitability, he explains.
As disruptions continue, House is adjourned till 2 pm
Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha assemble. Speaker Om Birla is chairing the proceedings in Lok Sabha, while Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu is presiding over the Upper House.
In Lok Sabha, opposition members show placards and raise slogans. Mr. Birla proceeds with Question Hour.
Rajya Sabha mourns the death of former member Ramadhar Kashyap.
Bills for Consideration and Passing
- Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021
Bill for Consideration and Passing
- Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021
Opposition parties demand probe into Pegasus 'snooping' issue, sacking of Amit Shah
The issue of "snooping" using Pegasus spyware snowballed into a massive political row in Parliament and outside as various parties demanded a thorough investigation and sacking of Home Minister Amit Shah, while the government maintained it had nothing to do with it.
The Congress accused the government of "treason" and held Shah responsible for the snooping and hacking of phones of journalists, judges and politicians, and demanded a probe into the "role of the prime minister" in the entire matter as well.