Parliament proceedings | March 19, 2021

The Lok Sabha will take up The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2021 and The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021 today.

On Thursday, The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha undertook discussion on various issues, including queries around roads and infrastructure, the new vehicle scrappage policy, and the Modi govt’s record in dealing with dissent. The Rajya Sabha passed the Insurance Amendment Bill 2021 that increases the maximum foreign investment allowed in an insurance company from 49% to 74%, amid criticism from the Opposition parties on the clause enabling “control and ownership” by foreign investors.

The first part of the Budget Session of Parliament, which commenced with the address of President Ram Nath Kovind on January 29, concluded on February 29. The second part of the Budget Session began March 7.

Here are the latest updates:

Lok Sabha | 7.15 pm

Santosh Kumar, JD(U), alleges that the Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and West Bengal employees of the Mizoram Gramin Bank have been facing a threat to their lives. Demands that they be given protection.

Dr. Manoj Rajoria, demands that the Ranthambore region be declared an ecosensitive zone.

Sanjay Seth, BJP, talks about overpopulation in the country and its adverse effect on economy, health and ecology. He demands that the Centre bring in a Overpopulation control law.

Dr. Gaddam Ranjith Reddy, TRS, condemns IPL authorities and demands that they reconsider Hyderabad as a venue for the tournament.

Syed Imtiaz Jaleel, AIMIM, demands a civil avaition school in Allahabad.

Anubhav Mohanty, BJD, talks about parental alienation. He says that there are more child custody cases than divorce cases. He says that fake sexual abuse allegations have plagued such cases. There are many social stigmas in these cases. He demands that the government take a closer look in this issue. He demands a law that mandates shared parenting.

The Speaker says that it has been a productive week.

Lok Sabha is adjourned for the day.

Lok Sabha | 6.40 pm

Lok Sabha takes up discussion of Matters of Urgent Public Importance.

Jagdambika Pal, BJP, demands that an All India Judicial Services be constituted.

Dr. Amar Singh, demands that the Punjab Rural Development Act be implemented.

Dr. Satya Pal Singh, demands a National Sports Association be constituted so that youth can avail sports facilities across the country.

Lok Sabha | 6.20 pm

The Speaker says that the members should put forth their argument in 150 words. He says that the computer where the data is put in doesn't register the discussion beyond it.

Vena Devi talks about the issue of rising cases of Encephalitis in Bihar.

Shyam Singh Yadav, BSP, says that he will finish his 'speech' in 149 words. He says that the government has not been cognisant of the needs of the poor, labour and farmer. He demands that the Prime Minister call the farmers and listen to their farmers. He says that the PM should put aside his 'Mann ki Baat' and listen to the mann ki baat  of the farmers and demands that the farm laws be taken back.

Dr. Mohammad Jawed, INC, talks about soil erosion due to flooding in Bihar which leads to blocking of villages. He demands rehabilitation of the displaced and centre to put in funds into the Mahanada project so that there are embankments made on the banks.

Kunwar Danish Ali, BSP, talks about the issue of milk adulteration especially in megacities. He demands that the dairy companies be subjected to checks.

Lok Sabha | 6.10 pm

Dr. Alok Kumar Suman talks about the frequent flooding of the Gandaki River and demands government action on the issue.

Ritesh Pandey, BSP, says that only 3% government jobs are remaining in the country. He says even clerical work is being outsourced and minimum wage not given. He says that it is a matter of great concern for the socially backward classes and must be rectified.

Dr. Bharti Pravin Pawar, BJP, talks about the pollution of the Godavari river and the rising cases of water-borne diseases due to the issue.

Lok Sabha | 5.50 pm

Private members business begins

BJP MP Jagdambika Pal talks about childhood malnutrition and aaganwadis. He demands that aaganwadis be made within school premises. He says that the Modi government has given emphasis on the well-being of aaganwadi workers who have benefited under schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana.

The government has decided to give Rs. 2 lakh for building aaganwaadi centres and Rs. 3000 per month for the upkeep for these centres, he says. The government has pooled in 1330 centres through Corporate Social Responsibility schemes.

Mr. Pal underlines the importance of Poshan yojna in the workings of aanganwadi centres.

Lok Sabha extended till the discussion of Zero Hour is completed.

Jaskaur Meena highlights the atrocities against women in Rajasthan. She underlines 23 cases of violence against women in her constituency. She says that there are currently 6.14 lakhs cases in Rajasthan relating to atrocities against women. "There are 12,000 rape cases alone in the State and the government has been silent on the issue," Ms. Meena says.

Hanuman Beniwal talks about the depression and suicide among women sportspersons.

Rajya Sabha | 5.30 pm

Prahalad Singh Patel: Whenever, any stakeholder has requested for govt, we have helped him. The list of hotels that the Tourism ministry has is 1400. Can some one believe that there are only 1400 hotels The hotels industry is unorganised sector. Can we get the hotels registered? Today 39,000 hotels have registered on our portal. As I said, that tourism industry is based on tourism. And the fact that India has been sending out vaccine to the world, has changed perception towards us. When Corona pandemic hit, the foreign tourists, didn't trust to travel back to their countries, instead they stayed back here.

"Despite the fact that 2020 was a zero year, I still support PM Modi's stand that by 2024 the number of foreign tourists will double," he says.

People spoke about Jammu and Kashmir. In January 2020 J&K had only 3000 odd tourists while in Jan 2021 nearly 19000 tourists went there, says the Tourism Minister, adding, in J&K currently, 26 films are being shot.

The challenge in front of us right now is that there are many tourists sites which are saturated with domestic tourists and what will we do when the foreign tourists come, he added.

"I want to thank the domestic tourists, who have supported the Indian tourism in these testing times," Mr. Patel said.

"Tourism is not just for fun and frolic it is also a measure to learn. If any one wants to dance to drum beats for the entire night, specially the tourists that come from western countries, that is also okay Nagaland may have this culture so we will find a way for them to go to Nagaland," the Tourism Minister added.

Rajya Sabha adjourned.

Lok Sabha | 5.30 pm

Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawarchand Gehlot to responds the debate.

13 MPs have spoken on the bill and all have supported it but also raised other issues related to it, he says.

This is a bill that categorises seven castes into one and exceptions to this in specific districts. The categorisation will include the bracketing the specific name against the main name of Devendrakula Vellalar so that their old caste certificates are not disregarded, Mr. Gehlot says.

The Modi government from the first has been devoted to the economic and social development of SC/STs, he said, adding, attempts are being made to replace manual cleaning of drains and sewage pipes by mechanical means.

On sub categorisation of SCs, he says that the matter is pending before the Supreme Court.

On breaching the 50% cap on reservations, he reiterates that the matter with regard to Maratha reservation pending before the Supreme Court. "We haven’t been asked to intervene. The appeal in the case has been filed by the state government," he says.

On different categorisation of communities in different states and even districts, he says that these are based on old surveys.

He requests that the The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill be passed.

The Bill passed by voice vote.

Rajya Sabha | 5.15 pm

Reply by Tourism Minister Prahalad Singh Patel:

The entire world is affected. It is a time for suggestions and advice not criticism, he says.

"I salute, the hotel owners, travel agents, guides, they have stood with the government in these testing times. They haven't criticised govt. Tourism, runs on perception. Indian Government Tourism Department is only one of the stakeholder," Mr. Patel says.

Why is tourism industry dipping, because it doesn't have money to pay electricity bill, property taxes. These are all state subjects and the states should have taken appropriate steps, the minister adds.

"There have been 1.8 lakh foreign tourist and  2.2 lakh domestic tourists traveling abroad. Who worked towards retaining domestic tourists? Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi started it by asking the travellers to travel around India before going abroad," he says.

Lok Sabha | 5 p.m.

Imtiaz Jaleel (AIMIM) quotes NCRB data on showing spiking crimes against Dalits.

Ritu Bahuguna Joshi (BJP) supports the Bill and says its incumbent upon every society to give dignity to its citizens. She commends government and PM Modi. "The bill is basically a group of seven sub castes want a different nomenclature. The history of this community is replete with injustices where from being warriors and titled gentry they were successively deprived of their status,"she says.

Rajya Sabha | 5 pm

Priyanka Chaturvedi, Shiv Sena: The Ministry had demanded 3178 crore, last year the ministry had got nearly 2500 crores. When the tourism sector has lost nearly 92,000 crores, the tourism ministry has been allotted little over Rs 2,200 crores. This shows the difference in govt's words and actions. And unfortunately, as the standing committee report shows that the Tourism Ministry has shown fiscal indiscipline.

The foreign countries routinely come out with advisories against travelling in India, because of law and order. May be the Indian govt doesn't see the women as economic contributors. And it is possible that women travellers wearing jeans, especially ripped jeans, may hurt India's sanskriti.

Rajya Sabha | 4.30 pm

Discussion of the working of the Ministry of Tourism continues

Chayya Verma of Congress says: "Respected BJP Mp Shiv Pratap Shukla claimed that the budget was hiked. The truth is that tehre has been a cut and the demand that the tourism ministry asked have not been granted for them. This despite the fact that tourism had come to a standstill during the pandemic. And now that the pandemic is slowly receding, the cost of train travel has doubled. Who can travel with such fares?"

Vandana Chavan of NCP: "When lockdown was declared tours were cancelled, tourists started asking for refunds. Ugly situations arose, offices were ransacked and many cases are pending in consumer courts. The government has not said a word to show that they are concerned with the plight of the tour groups. The tourism sector should get GST holiday for a year. The world economic forum has come up with a roadmap for the tourism industry. But I don't see any of these steps being taken here. One of the features that the World Economic Forum has said that travel within countries should be encouraged."

Lok Sabha | 4.30 pm

Members continue discussion on The SC/ST (Amendment) Bill for consideration and passing

Sunil Tatkare of NCP speaks in Marathi.

Umesh Jadhav of BJP says, "PM Modi is deserving of thanks for addressing a movement that went on for 68 years. The community claims they got their names as descendants of Indra, the king of the Devas and they enjoyed many privileges in temple functions etc. Their loss in social status despite being part of the ruling community in Kerala, Tamil Nadu et al, but lost status from late medieval times."

Dr. Amar Singh of INC says the demand of the community is legitimate but it should have been fulfilled before and not when elections are due.

Virendra Kumar of BJP: "There are communities which have SC/ST reservations in certain parts of the country and don’t in others, like the dhobi community in Madhya Pradesh is designated as SC in three districts in the state, in other districts they are designated as OBC, this difference must end."

Rajya Sabha | 4 pm

Jaya Bachchan of SP: "We have been talking about religious tourism and ancient monuments. These monuments were constructed by our ancestors but what is the new thing that you have done."

"Foreign tourists used to come to India to visit Kashmir. Unfortunately, this has changed, because the foreign tourists fear for their life in Kashmir. We need to aggressively work to change this perception. India has more natural beauty than other countries. For foreign tourists you need facilities and cleanliness. The foreign tourists do not come because these facilities are not available."

BJD MP, who is in Chair, Sasmit Patra asks Jaya Bachchan to conclude within a minute. Ms. Bachchan loses temper. "I can not speak just for a minute. The way I want to speak and what I want to say, can not be completed within a minute.  This is why I did not speak in the last session and I refuse to speak now."

Jharna Das Badiya, CPI (M) urges govt to promote tourism in North Eastern countries, says it is the only region which shares boundaries with five nations.

Narayan Dass Gupta, AAP says: "There is a difference between projection and performance. I want to understand why is the budget allocated for tourism routinely remains unspent."

Lok Sabha | 4 pm

G. Madhavi of YSRCP supports the Bill. "This bill addresses the long held demand of the community." She gives details of Jagan government’s programmes for SC/ST.

Rahul Shewale of Shiv Sena says centre should clarify its position on Maratha reservation. "SC should reconsider the 50% cap on reservation and Centre should take a proactive role in this issue as many states have breached the cap."

As far as reservations for the Dhangar community is hanging fire as the ST list at the Centre mentions a “Dhangad” community, while no such community exists in Maharashtra and the Dhangar community deserves reservation.

Vijay Kumar (JDU) supports bill, commends government programme on SC/ST. He says sub-categorisation of Mahadalits and ati pichada as done in Bihar be done centrally.

Girish Chandra (BSP) says these communities wanted to first be out of the SC category, we have to understand the levels of oppression that Dalits face in India. "The government is only trying to engineer a split in the community, and address their real issues. The bill should’ve gone to a select committee to explore the demands of the community fully, that of a common categorisation abd to add them to the OBC rather than SC list."

Ramulu Pothuganti (TRS) describes programmes run by TRS for SC/ST community. He ddvocates that the proposal for sub categorisation of SC/ST from Telangana and AP be cleared.

Rajya Sabha | 3.30 pm

K.C. Ramamurthy, BJP: "We are bouncing. I am confident that our tourism sector will also bounce back. He proposes mining tourism- we need to chalk out a plan to take tourist to the closed mines."

"We need to have local coordination committees. The participation of local is essential for protection and preservation of tourist sites. Tourism should be given industry status."

T.K.S. Elagovan, DMK: "This is a period when the govt can plan for better infrastructure to increase the tourist inflow. Tourism is not always spiritual, we should promote cultural tourism. Cleanliness and environmental sustainbility is very important. In the tally of safety and security out of 140 country India is on the 120th position. The attack of tourists, thefts, sexual abuse and cheating cases. Even a couple of incidents can deter the tourists from coming here. The state governments must be involved in promoting tourism. After all it is the state government alone can understand the culture and language of their state."

Ayodhya Ram Reddy, YSRCP: "Coordinated efforts among various ministries to ensure horizontal and vertical coordination. This is the best time, where we can sit quietly and revisit the tourism strategy. Govt should only act as a facilitator and a friendly guide."

Lok Sabha | 3.30 pm

Mr. Joshi seeks support for passing the Bill. Says it is a transparent system and all revenue will go to state governments.

Bill put to vote. Amendments by opposition defeated.

The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2021 passed via voice vote.

The SC/ST (Amendment) Bill

MoS Parliamentary affairs Arjun Meghwal asks that the SC/ST (Amendment) Bill be passed before private members business commences.

House agrees.

Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawarchand Gehlot seeks to move the Bill for consideration.

Mr. Gehlot says that seven castes in Tamil Nadu due to distinctiveness be listed as Devendrakula Vellalar. "And Kadian community to be listed separately for certain areas in Tamil Nadu. There are no additions or deletions in the list, only a regrouping."

Gurjeet Singh Aujla (INC) speaks in Punjabi on continuing backwardness of SC/ST communities and urges government to end manual scavenging. "Dalits still oppressed. 16.2% SCs and 8.2% STs are there in the country but over 70% have no access to schools. Says Centre should increase its share on scholarship schemes for these sections.

The government is bringing this bill only with an eye on the elections in Tamil Nadu. Crimes against Dalits especially Dalit and tribal women is growing with UP being the worst case."

He mentions the case of Hathras. "Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi were the only ones who cared. The poor girl’s family was not allowed even where she was being cremated."

Sunita Duggal (BJP) says: "Devendrakula Vellalars were powerful cultivator and warrior clans. They are mentioned in classical Sangam literature texts and 2000 year old inscriptions in Sivagangai and in Kerala. Lists temples where special respect was accorded to Devendrakula Vellalars. Respect should be accorded to skill and not caste."

"The community says that they were included in the SC list by the British in 1936 and had to face humiliation , now if the community wants all seven sub castes to be designated as Devendrakula Vellalars no one in this House will raise an objection. PM Modi and HM Amit Shah met with community members and assured them that they would be categorised thus."

Lok Sabha | 3.00 pm

Bhagwant Mann of AAP speaks in Punjabi. "Punjab’s natural resources are being looted mercilessly. Illegal sand mining has been going on with impunity despite orders prohibiting it from the NGT. Both the previous Akali government and current Congress government are responsible. In Punjab, legal stuff is difficult to get but if you want to get things illegally it’s available. I appeal to the minister to save Punjab’s water, sand and land."

K. Ram Mohan Naidu of TDP: "PSUs should get preference in buying excess raw materials from captive mines. This is in reference to the Vizag Steel Plant that spends 65% of its cost on raw material alone. Bring state government into the process of auction of mines.

Balubhau Dhanorkar of INC: "Government is rushing this bill and why does it want to clear it in a hurry. The public was given only 10 days to give their view whereas public consultation is according to rules, supposed to be for 30 days.

Ritesh Pandey of BSP objects to ending the captive mines category and it will discourage local industry to be set up.

Sanjay Seth of BJP says this bill will make India atmanirbhar (self-reliant) in the mining sector. Funds from DMFT has financed development in Jharkhand, a state I represent.

Chair asks minister to reply.

Pralhad Joshi speaks:

"Grateful that 21 MPs participated and gave useful suggestions. Apprehensions have been raised that the Centre wants to take over the power of auction and hit the rights of the states. In the last few years 143 mines were up for auction, states only managed 7. We cannot allow our minerals to just lie there and government to spend money on importing. The money will be sent to the state, the Centre won’t be keeping it."

"All state governments have supported this move. As far as the DMFT is concerned, we will give certain guidelines and concerns will be taken on board of including MPs. It’s not that the DMFT money will be spent only in the mining area alone. I assure MPs that they will be part of DMFT committee. We are trying to find a middle path on these issues."

Mr. Joshi says, "On the question of revenue loss as captive mines may sell to whoever they want, state governments weighed in on it. Having the fourth largest reserve of coal in the world we are importing, how do we allow that. FDI is being allowed for both technology, efficiency. They need to apply in India as an Indian country."

"Question on Adani - the series of importing coal from Australia has been on for the last 70 years. Meghalaya has requested to auction mines, some SOPs are being worked out as constitutional provisions need to be taken into account as far North East is concerned."

Rajya Sabha | 3.00 pm

G.C. Chandrashekar of Congress: "The total amount of budget that the government announced for this financial year is equal to the amoount of funds not spent in last three years. Studies have pointed out that there 40 % loss of revenue in last one year Nearly 2.5 crore persons have lost their jobs, as per Tourism secretary's submission to Standing Committee."

"Medical students from Karnataka, who were studying in Russia, were not allowed to board Vande Bharatam flights just because they could not speak Hindi."

S.R. Balasubramoniyam, AIADMK: "Nearly 100 million people world wide have lost their jobs in the tourism sector and half of them are from India. This has led to recession and depression."

"If the government does not step in, we might as well write obituary of this glorious sector."

Sujeet Kumar, BJD: "Tourism has a huge multiplier effect. Tourism contributes according to many studies nearly five % of total country's GDP and 12 % of jobs. 2020 has been the worst year for the tourism industry. International arrivals globally fell by 74 %, India's numbers must be close to it. Govt has increased the budget in comparison to 2019-20 by 22 %, which is low for an industry that is recovering from COVID pandemic."

Rajya Sabha | 2.30 pm

Rajya Sabha reconvenes.

Discussion on Tourism

K.R. Suresh Reddy of TRS: "Tourism sector was the worst affected during the COVID pandemic This sector contributes 5 % of the GDP. Need a comprehensive subplan, to pull the tourism out of the rut. Instead of selling PSUs or LIC, why not sell Indian tourism. Jungle Main Mor Nacha kisne Dekha? (who saw the peacock dancing in jungle) is a Hindi saying. But when a peacock dances in the PM's residence, every sees. So may be he should be made the face of the Indian Tourism."

"Time has come that you have to provide liquidity to the sector. There are worst affected nations like France, who have already done it. The standing committee has also suggested the same."

Shiv Pratap Shukla of BJP: "Tourism provides 13 % of the total jobs in India. When the Narendra Modi government came we were on the 65th position in World Tourism tally and now we are on the 34th rank. And soon enough, under Modi ji's leadership we will be number one in this tally. The Tourism budget has increased by 61 % in this financial year. ₹ 950 crores have been allotted for tourism related infrastructure development. The air and rail connectivity has been improved."

Shiv Pratap Shukla of BJP: "Recently foundation stone was laid for Ram Mandir. Now Ayodhya's soul is inviting people to come and join with Lord Ram."

"Now that the Ram Mandir has been constructed and Kashi Vishwanath corridor has been constructed, UP can easily become to top most visited state by foreign tourists."

He counts scrapping of Article 370 as a step towards increasing tourist traffic to J&K. "You will get votes and mukti both if you were to chant Ram's name."

Lok Sabha | 2.30 pm

Bill for consideration and passing: The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2021

Saugata Roy of TMC endorsed the views of INC MP Ulaka. "This Bill is an attempt to open the mining sector to big business. While government may say it is for generating employment but it cannot be denied that most mining areas have seen Maoist insurgency. Why? Because of the activities of private companies like Vedanta. This Bill will give rise to more insurgency. Without the permission of the local gram sabhas mines cannot be set up and if this Bill comes it will be in contravention of the Constitution. The end idea was to prevent exploitation by others."

"Minerals are a permanent asset and should be utilised for benefit of few people. Tribal communities should be protected."

Bharati Pawar of BJP supports the Bill, points to low percentage of area under active mining and waste of capacity and the Bill addresses this. "Big swathes of mineral wealth are blocked and this Bill will facilitate opening them and earning revenue."

Hanuman Beniwal of RLP supports the Bill. He says there have been cases of leases for captive mines have been extended despite flagrant violations of terms of allocation. He demands that action be taken against all companies that have done similar violations. He asks that local MPs be made part of District Mineral Foundation Trust. He says MPLADS being discontinued over COVID-19, it has hit MPs hard.

Bishweshwar Tudu of BJP supports the Bill, says the important targets of the Bill are too boost production and make mines economically viable. "This will remove the distinction between captive and other mines. This will encourage setting up industry around the mines."

Lok Sabha | 1.45 pm

Sunil Tarkatre of NCP urges incentive of the State governments to be increased in future.

Saptagiri Sankar Ulaka, Congress MP from Odisha talks about unemployment in Odisha despite rich in minerals. "Keonjhar has 52 % below poverty line despite being a mining hubs." He talks about Adivasis being forced to give up land mining land but don't gain. Most of the mining districts are the poorest districts in the State.

Mr. Ulaka talks about making the local MP to be chairman of the District Mineral Fund so that he can oversee how the money is spent. He asks a joint committee to examine the bill again.

C.P. Joshi, BJP MP from Chittorgarh, Rajasthan, supports the bill but mentions that an ancient fort in his constituency is getting damaged because of mining. He asks for a central team for inspection.

Sunil Kumar Pintu of Janata Dal United MP from Bihar, while supporting the bill, says, "Contrasting how mining sector used to be full of scams, now there are new scams."

Arun Sao, BJP MP from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, talks about employment opportunities, how it will improve the quality of life.

Lok Sabha | 1.15 pm

Vinayak B. Raut, Shiv Sena: "The mining sector is the most important sector for country but unfortunately it is full of irregularities. As a result, States lose revenue. That's why the sector needs regulations. Few years ago, mining in Goa was so severe that sea water started coming in and that's when the State Government stopped mining."

Pinaki Misra of Biju Janata Dal thanks the minister for appreciating the Odisha government. He says Odisha produced 74 % of country's iron ore production. "We are hoping to double coal and iron ore production in the next 5 years. Some of these amendments proposed in this bill are long overdue. I am going to flag some of the issues that the State government made."

Mr. Misra flags a concern about the definition of dispatch to prevent misuse. He flagged some of the sections that give the Centre unbridled powers and says they should be used sparingly. He urges the Mining Ministry and Environment Ministry should work closely. He ends his speech by supporting the bill.

Ram Shiromani Verma of BSP talks about the exploitation of mine workers and need to protect them.

Nama Nageswara Rao of TRS raises the point that Mines and Mineral Development Committee doesn't specifically name MPs and MLAs to be members even though the minister mentioned in his speech.

Rajya Sabha | 1.00 pm

RS adjourned till 2.30 pm.

Lok Sabha | 12.45 pm

Congress MP from Meghalaya, Vincent Pala cites a 2019 Supreme Court order about land and mines belonging to tribals and demands that the bill be exempt to Sixth Schedule Areas.

Mr. Pala says the bill proposes to take away the rights of the land of the State Governments like Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Bengal where the BJP is not in power. He asks why is the bill being amended every year. "Either the ministry is not competent or there is a strong lobby, that's why I oppose the bill. I know the purpose is because the government is desperate attempt to get cash."

BJP MP from Jharkhand Sunil Kumar Singh says, "Vincent Pala asked why the bill was changed every year. Because their economy was functioning under ABCD - Avoid, Bypass, Confuse and Delay. This bill is essential for reaching $5 trillion dollar economy."

Rajya Sabha | 12.30 pm

Mr. Goyal says: "Passengers don't want to use linen and are carrying their food on their own, some contractual workers were affected due to COVID-19. We asked contractors to not sack employees, we compensated them, the pace has increased so much now that double the people have joined back work."

MoS Agriculture Parshottam Rupala: "If a farmer wants to move to organic farming, then there is a provision that a farmer will get ₹ 31,000/per two hectares."

Railway minister Piyush Goyal: "The facade of Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai will not be changed, we have developed a station under PPP mode, a private person has invested ₹ 100 crore, they will raise the money in 30 years after which it will be handed over to Railways. At Chatrapati Shivaji if entry and exit are segregated, then it will benefit passengers."

"Pune included in station redevelopment plan. CSMT development does not impact the heritage side of the station."

Neeraj Dangi of Congress asks on what basis stations are chosen to be developed under PPP model?

Mr. Goyal says: "Footfall is the biggest indicator. we do not overlook other stations, railways provide amenities there, some stations developed that are important from religious point of view. Station like Amritsar, not everyone will come by train, but will have to beautify due to its importance."

P. Bhattacharya of Congress says: "No competition held for redevelopment of the stations, you just said you are developing it? Why the contradiction?"

Mr. Goyal says: "IRCTC is a joint venture, 50% owned by Railways, they organised the design competition for Nagpur, Gwalior. Parcel service flourished once in railways. we revived it, did video conference with courier companies, asked MSMEs to use the railway service, we have started special trains for parcel service. Our freight speed has doubled, now trains are punctual."

Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, MoS Rural development: "2.95 crore houses to be built by 2022 under PM Aawas Yojana. ₹ 1.2 lakh credited directly to beneficiaries, no provision of loan. In the past four years, only 1.31 crore houses built under PM Awas Yojana, minister says elections in States delays the construction of the houses."

Sanjay Singh of AAP says India ranked 94 in hunger index in 2020. Government said it has improved, since ranking in 2019 was 102.

MoS Agriculture Purshottam Rupala says: "Some NGO in the world does the survey, we have asked on what basis have you reached this conclusion? Whenever a dog gives birth in our village, even though it bites, we provide them food. in a country where such tradition exists, and an NGO comes and gives such report, no need to pay attention to such reports. 5 lakh 59 tonne buffer stock, there is no problem of food shortage. As far as these surveys are concerned, strong children are also accounted in these surveys, there should be awareness in society, our dynamic minister Smriti ji has started a jan andolan, 13 crore events were done."

MoS Rupala says: "Some perishable food is wasted, that is why funds allocated for harvesting management."

Lok Sabha | 12.15 pm

Mines and Minerals Development (Amendment) Bill, 2021 moved

Pralhad Joshi moves the Mines and Minerals Development (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

Mr. Joshi says India has the potential like South Africa and Australia, "but we are considerably lower."

Mining sector is one of the biggest employment generators, he says. "This sector is under explored."

Mr. Joshi says that we believe in 'reform and transform' and that we aim at unshackling the mining sector to generate employment. "Around 55 lakh direct and indirect employment are expected to be generated by these reforms. We will allow private sector into exploration. This is to enhance mining activity."

Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi says captive mines can sell above 50% of their produce.

Mr. Joshi explains the various provisions of the proposed amendments of the Mines and Minerals Development Bill. He said many of the proposals have come from many State governments.

Mr. Joshi talks about the lacuna in the definition of mining operations. "Now, there will be clarity in the language to mean production and dispatch within two years of allocation of mines. Today is the most remarkable day in the country's mining sector as we are unshackling the sector."

Lok Sabha | 12.10 pm

Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 approved by Lok Sabha

Papers being laid on the floor of House.

Consideration of Rajya Sabha amendments to Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 taken up.

The Bill, as amended by the Rajya Sabha, is approved by the Lok Sabha.

Rajya Sabha | 12.05 pm

Question Hour begins in the Rajya Sabha.

Mallikarjun Kharge of the Congress says there was a proposal to merge three divisions of Gulbarga in Karnataka.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, responding to Mr. Kharge, says, "Railway Board studies the proposals. Practical viewpoint is to be taken. We will discuss in detail with Leader of Opposition Kharge ji."

Mr. Goyal says: "Modern train is the need of the day, under PM Modi ji railways has got historical investment, if a road is built, then everyone uses it, similarly if a pipeline is built by GAIL and they only use it, it will be misused. Similarly if new rail tracks are laid and private people are invited and encouraged to operate there, it will be run by loco pilots, there will be caterers, so it will generate employment and not lead to job losses.

Zafar-ul-Islam of BJP seeks to know about level of participation of private players in laying down railway tracks, specially in UP.

Mr. Goyal says identified seven routes dedicated to semi high speed passenger corridors, we are talking to State governments, UP government is cooperating on Delhi-Varanasi route, mostly elevated along the highways.

Asset monetisation is a mask for privatisation: Jairam Ramesh

Jairam Ramesh of Congress says: "Two days ago he said no plan to privatise railways, now he says asset monetisation. Asset monetisation is a mask for privatisation."

Mr. Goyal says: "When you privatise, you sell off the assets permanently, the plan is monetise is in terms of how it will generate resources, further investment and growth, the infrastructure of Indian Railways will never be privatised, dedicated freight corridor is a separate corporate entity, railway is supporting them, railways doesn't own the tracks, if we raise funds by giving them out to private sector for use, we are doing a service for the nation, that will give us money."

BJP's Jyotiraditya Scindia says that 700 railway staff died due to COVID-19, asks if any help was done to their families.

Mr. Goyal says: "Seventh pay commission has been implemented, compensation amount has increased due to it. WB has not implemented seventh pay commission. Whoever is eligible, one family member is appointed on compassionate grounds."

Fauzia Khan of NCP says over 19,000 coolies, badly impacted by COVID-19.

 

Lok Sabha | 12 pm

Congress MP Ravneet Bittu asks if COVID-19 vaccines affect the DNA of our future generations and says there are a lot of apprehensions.

Dr. Vardhan talks about vaccine-preventable diseaes and how many viruses have been eliminated.

"When a vaccine is given the final go ahead, a lot of trials are done and data is analysed not just in the country but also at the level of the WHO. 0.000432% of side effects are seen for COVID-19 vaccine. The data needs to be believed. I want to tell the citizens, don't have any apprehensions," says the Health Minister.

Supriya Sule asks by when the government will allow universal vaccination.

The Minister responds that every vaccine doesn't require universalisation. "The National Expert Group for Vaccination Administration decides, on scientific basis, whether it is necessary that each and every person should be given the vaccine."

Rajya Sabha | 12 pm

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on an issue raised by Vivek Tankha of Congress earlier, says, "he raised an important issue regarding spinal muscular atrophy diseases suffered by children. He said there was only one medicine, which is imported and the tax component on it is Rs. 7 crore. It is not correct, all drugs imported for personal use are exempted from customs duty. Therefore, it is entitled to concession. They attact 5% GST, which in this case is Rs. 80 lakh. The GST council has granted powers to the Finance Minister to grant exemption on an ad-hoc basis. These suggestions are then placed in front of the council."

Akhilesh Prasad Singh of Congress says the price of LPG cylinders has increased by Rs. 225 in past three months. "Gas subsidy has also not been received by people."

Lok Sabha | 11.45 am

Ashok M. Nete, BJP MP, asks about health services in remote and tribal areas like Gadchiroli.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan replies with details of the steps taken to strengthen health infrastructure including medical colleges in aspirational districts. He informs the House that the Centre assists State governments to strengthen health infrastructure.

He says MPs should evaluate the shortcomings in primary health services under their constituencies and if there are shortcomings, they can ask for strengthening them by sending a proposal to the Centre through State governments.

Mr. Nete asks if there are plans to set up a medical college in Gadchiroli. The Minister informs the House that 157 medical colleges are at various stages of development in the past six years.

"The National Medical Commission is examining where new medical colleges should be set up. If future proposals come from State governments, they will be evaluated. But at this moment, we can't make a comment about setting up new medical college," he says.

BJP MP Maneka Gandhi says Thalassemia has been recognised as a disability and asks the Minister about specific steps taken in terms of free blood bank etc., for Thalassemic patients.

The Minister replies that screening of such patients, counseling at the stage of conception, and bone marrow transplants are ongoing. He says since bone marrow transplant is expensive, the Centre suggests that State governments should bear half the cost while the Centre will bear the other half.

Dr. Vardhan also speaks about corporates pitching in for bone marrow transplants.

Ms. Gandhi suggests bringing thalassemic patients under the Atal Amrit Abhiyan. She says there is no point in talking about corporates as "they do nothing".

The Minister replies that thalassemic patients are provided free blood. He talks about corporates with regard to bone marrow transplants. He also seeks specific suggestions from Ms. Gandhi.

Rajya Sabha | 11.45 am

Subhash Chandra Singh of BJD speaks in Odiya.

Hardwar Dubey of BJP says, "lakhs of tourists come to see Taj Mahal in Agra, Mathura and Bharatpur."

Priyanka Chaturvedi of Shiv Sena says, "the guidelines for comorbidities does not include asthma and obesity. To ensure more people over 45 years of age could be vaccinated, these should be included. Many sadhus, peers do not have papers, they should be prioritised for vaccines."

Fauzia Khan of NCP says, "train routes in Marathawada should be expanded."

Chaya Verma of Congress says, "Centre is delaying cold chain facilities for Chattisgarh."

Jugalsingh Mathurji Lokhandwala of BJP says, "1,700 crore litre of milk produced in the country, and a large quantity is adulterated."

Lok Sabha | 11.30 am

Mr. Javadekar talks about steps like efforts to move to BS VI emissions norms and the move to electric vehicles. "3,000 industries switched to piped natural gas; 3,000 brick kilns were fitted with Zig Zag technology," he says.

The Minister says, "compared with previous years, the emission norms have come down."

Some people in Delhi are giving ads in newspaper about reduced pollution when they had nothing to do with it, he says. "PM Modi had announced clean air technology plan for the next five years from the Red Fort last year."

Earth Sciences Minister Harsh Vardhan, replying to a question on land slides, talks about mapping 4.25 lakh square kms of land. He says 50% of the job is done.

On the question of shifting people who are vulnerable to landslide, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said the information collected by Geological Survey of India is passed on to State governments.

Rajya Sabha | 11.30 am

Bhupender Yadav of BJP says, "Article 21 of the Constitution says no person should be deprived of personal liberty. Telegraph Act says phones cannot be tapped illegally. I want to raise the Rajasthan issue, where the phones of Ministers and BJP leaders were tapped."

Chairman Naidu asks him not to blame anyone.

Mr. Yadav continues, "citizens phones are being tapped".

The Chairman says any mention about any State government will not go on record.

Mr. Yadav says, "6 crore people of Rajasthan, the people, the disgruntled leaders of Congress, their rights were violated."

Thumping of desks by the Treasury benches.

Mr. Yadav demands protection to such people.

No allegation against any government, State or Central, or party will go on record, Mr. Naidu says.

"Mr. Yadav was also mentioning an incident. Don't show allegations and counter allegations on TV, don't strain yourself," the Chairman says.

Mamata Mohanta of BJD speaks in Odiya.

A.D Singh of RJD says there is immense pressure on the judiciary in Bihar due to unintended implication of prohibition. "5,600 cases are pending in the HC for bail, and all are related to prohibition," he says. "Regular cases should not be delayed due to prohibition cases," Mr. Singh says

Lok Sabha | 11.20 am

YSRCP MP P.V. Midhun Reddy asks if the government has a mechanism to control forest fires and flash floods.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar says the government has very good mechanism that can send out a message. He cites the examples of controlling the fire in Manipur Nagaland border, Assam and Nagaland. "Even in Simplipal, it was contained early," he says.

Mr. Reddy asks about carbon emissions to which the Minister replies that India is way below other countries like China.

Ajay Kumar Misra Teni of BJP asks the government's plans on afforestation and whether help is being taken from different agencies. Mr. Javadekar responds that the Ministry is always working with different agencies.

Riteish Pandey of Bahujan Samaj Party asks about the lack of funds in fighting climate change.

Mr. Javadekar asserts that there is no shortage of funds. "The issue is not of funds but the general challenge of climate change," he says.

Rajeev Pratap Rudy asks a question on air pollution. He says, "I am worried about people like Prakash Javadekar, Meenakshi Lekhi or Rajnath Singh as air quality in India is hazardous."

Mr. Rudy asks the government for creative solutions to tackle the problem of air pollution, "that claim more lives than COVID-19".

Since he speaks for a considerable time, Meenakshi Lekhi, who is on the chair, asks him to ask a question.

Rajya Sabha | 11.20 am

Zero Hour begins in the Upper House

Om Prakash Mathur of the BJP speaks about a dam built in 1957 in Rajasthan.

Rajeev Satav, of the Congress asks, "When government can conduct animal and tree Census, why not conduct Census of OBCs?"

GVL Narasimha Rao of the BJP says that 56 containers of chilli is stuck at the Colombo port.

Sujeet Kumar of BJD speaks about cancer affecting 6 lakh people annually. "It disproportionately affects lower income groups. There is an urgent need to lower the price of cancer saving drugs," he says.

Seema Dwivedi of the BJP says many students and teachers affected due to COVID-19.

Lok Sabha | 11 am

Question Hour begins in the Lok Sabha.

B. Mahtab of Biju Janata Dal asks a question about duty imposed on Cotton and its impacts on farmers.

Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani informs the House about the steps taken by the government to help cotton farmers in terms of minimum support price and other measures. Specifically with regard to duty, she says the matter has been forwarded to the Finance Ministry after taking feedback from stakeholders.

Congress MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla talks about how the textile industry mmoved out of Punjab after 1984 and the steps taken to revive it. Ms. Irani responds that textile industry didn't get the support it needed in the 10 years of the UPA.

Rajeev Ranjan Singh (Lalan) of JD-U asks about the promotion of Bhagalpur silk. Ms. Irani lists the steps taken by the Centre along with the Handloom and Handicraft departments, and the State governments.

Rajya Sabha | 11 am

Rajya Sabha proceedings begin.

Parliamentary Standing Committee report on ministries of Health and Family Welfare, Energy, Food and Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Water Resources tabled in the House.

Minister V. Muraleedharan reads out the list of business for the next week. Working of various ministries will be discussed, demands for grants 2021-22 will be taken up, and there will be a discussion on the budget of Union Territory of J&K and Puducherry, 2020-21.

National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 will also to be discussed.

Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu appeals to all the Members to be extra careful due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases. "Be careful while interacting with people," he says.

Rajya Sabha

The Rajya Sabha will have the following discussions:

Discussion on the working of the Ministry of Tourism

Discussion on the working of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries

Discussion on the working of the ministries of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and Rural Development

Discussion on the working of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs

Lok Sabha

Legislative Business

Consideration of Rajya Sabha Amendments

Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Bills for consideration and passing

The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2021

The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 1:32:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/parliament-proceedings-live-march-19-2021/article34105272.ece

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