Parliament proceedings Sept. 15 updates | Lok Sabha passes Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Bhartruhari Mahtab is in the Chair as the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, is discussed.

Bhartruhari Mahtab is in the Chair as the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, is discussed.   | Photo Credit: Lok Sabha TV

After a smooth start to monsoon session of Parliament on Monday, government introduced two more Bills in Rajya Sabha.

From today (September 15), Rajya Sabha is being convened in the morning and Lok Sabha in the afternoon.

Parliament proceedings: Sept. 14 updates

Here are the live updates:

Lok Sabha | 7.45 pm

Lok Sabha passes Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill

Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution  Minister Raosaheb Patil Danve responds to the issues raised during discussion: "The 1955 Act was brought at a time when we faced food scarcity, now we have surplus agriculture production. In order to reduce the losses, we should have food processing units, due to non availability of cold storages, farmers suffer losses".

"The proposed amendment will encourage competition, it will help farmers get fair price for their produces. The consumers will also benefit," he says.

Sougata Ray intervenes to say that, with the increase in agri production, the population also increased, which should be considered. "During pandemic, migrant workers did not get much help.The Act underwent 13 amendments since 1955, but for the first time it has undergone complete dilution," he says.

"What is the rationale behind the limit of 100% rise in price to mandate intervention through price regulation?" he asks.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill is passed by voice vote. The House is adjourned till 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

Lok Sabha | 7.15 pm

Akali Dal's Sukhbir Singh Badal questions the manner in which the ordinance was brought without having any  consultation with farmers' organisations.

"The most affected are the farmers from Punjab," he says.

The farmers want clarification of their doubts; they fear that the multinationals will initially offer lucrative deals and then dominate the market, Mr. Badal says.

AAP's Bhagwant Mann opposes the Bill.

TDP supports the Bill, saying it will improve investment scenario in agriculture sector. However, it seeks clarification on how the government will intervene in natural calamities like locust attack. "There can be a misuse of the amendment by rich players, they may indulge in hoarding."

Supriya Sule of NCP says she does not support the Bill.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury says West Bengal had witnessed a notorious famine that killed 40 lakh people. Hoarding will be legalised via the Bill, he says. It is replete with various ambiguities, he adds: "this is a way to make hoarders 'atmanirbhar'".

"The hoarders can create multiple entities to stock commodities, it is a highly centralised law. Under the law, licences are not required for purchasing produces. Why does this government rely all the time on the ordinance route? What was the link between the ordinance and the pandemic, the government should explain. This ordinance is for helping the hoarders," he says.

Lok Sabha | 6.30 pm

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill continues to be discussed.

D.M. Kathir Anand, DMK, says the the proposed amendment is open to debate before being passed, the ordinance route had bypassed the legislation route. "The ordinance does not define extraordinary circumstances in which the government will intervene to regulate prices. Big corporates may prefer to stock up when the prices are low to profiteer, farmers will not benefit. There are ambiguities in the proposed amendment, which need to be clarified by the government.

"The amendment is likely to benefit the MNCs, big corporates, but not the farmers directly," he says, urging the government to send the Bill to Select Committee.

Shiv Sena supports the Bill. The JD(U) is also in favour of the amendment.

Rajendra Agrawal is in the Chair.

Bhartruhari Mahtab, BJD, says there was a need to remove many restrictions in trade of agricultural commodities; he welcomes the Bill: "while liberalising the regulatory environment, the government should protect the interest of farmers and consumers". However, he questions the timing of bringing the ordinance. A high-power committee had recommended removal of stringent restrictions of movement of food grains. "This reform will improve agricultural production, the government should have done away with restriction on exports. We are self sufficient in food grains, we can counter China's loan diplomacy with food diplomacy," he says.

Speaker Om Birla is in the Chair.

"This Bill is anti-farmer, it is in favour of the corporates," says BSP's Kunwar Danish Ali. The Bill will only benefit hoarders. He appeals to the government to reconsider such an "anti-farmer" Bill.

A.M. Arif, on behalf of the CPI(M), vehemently opposes the  Bill. It will exempt corporates like the Adanis to be exempted from stock limits, he says.  "They will dictate terms to farmers, dominate the market. They will set up storage houses and food processing units."

There are a lot of ambiguities in the Bill, and loopholes that may be misused, says E.T. Mohammed Basheer, IUML. "I apprehend the government is getting an extra-constitutional power," he says. Central government should consult the State governments to establish agricultural markets and improve agricultural infrastructure. "I apprehend that the big guns may fish in troubled waters," he adds.

Lok Sabha | 5.30 pm

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill is to be considered; to replace an ordinance.

TMC's Saugata Ray opposes the move, stating that Central government wants to take away the power from the State governments to regulate. He raises questions on the "hurry" in bringing in the ordinance, which states that certain essential items will be deregulated except for during certain extraordinary circumstances.

He cites the Pulses scam in which several industrialists were found to have been involved in spiking the market rate through hoarding. The ordinance, given the timing of its introduction, is likely to benefit big players, multinationals, to the disadvantage of farmers, he says.

"This Bill is another example of coercive  federalism, all powers of States to regulate are being taken away. I am totally opposed to this Bill," he concludes.

BJP's P.P. Choudhary supports the Bill, calling it a visionary step. He says it will benefit farmers and consumers.

Congress MP Dr. Amar Singh, from Fatehpur Sahib, says protests are  being organised in Punjab, Haryana and  Chhattisgarh against the ordinance." The provision being amended was for securing equitable distribution and availability of agricultural produce at fair prices.

"Impact of proposed amendment is that the government will intervene only when there is 100% increase in the price.

"States' power to intervene and regulate has been taken away. The central government is making a big mistake. The big corporates, MNCs and big players will benefit from this," he says.

"I ask the government why are the farmers protesting. The previous NDA government had in 2002 also removed the stock limit, and we had to pay a heavy price for that, we had to import at steep rates.

"After it came back in 2014, it set up the Shanta Kumar Committee that gave recommendations which were in the interest of big corporates. It suggested  reduced public procurement, increase in private investment. In 2018, you brought in a new scheme called PM Asha, to promote private investment..Congress opposes the Bill," he concludes.

TMC's Kalyan Banerjee says the aim of the Act was to curb hoarding, blackmarketing and profiteering and impose deterrent penalty. The amendment defeats those purposes. "The words used in the proposed amendment are extremely vague. Unbridled power has been sought to be given (to the centre) through the amendment," he says.

"The middlemen will take over due to the amendment, the government procured and customers also got the essential goods at fair prices. The amendment empowers middlemen, who will indulge in hoarding," he adds.

Lok Sabha | 5.15 pm

Bill reducing MPs' salary by 30% passed in Lok Sabha

Parliamentary Affairs Minister's response to the issues raised: "The scope of the Bill is regarding 30% reduction in salary of members. I thank all the members who have supported it. This is unprecedented".

"The government has taken unprecedented measures to tackle Covid-19. Rs.20 lakh crore had been given," he says. Objections are raised by some members. "Till November, almost all poor people will be getting rations. MNREGA wages have also been increased," Mr. Joshi says.

The motion for consideration of the Bill is adopted.

Motion moved by Sougata Ray for increasing deduction to 35% is negatived by voice vote.

The Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill is passed unanimously by voice vote.

Lok Sabha | 4.45 pm

MPs support Bill reducing their salaries but want MPLADS restored

Shiv Sena's Shrirang Appa Barne supports the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, but says MPLADs should be retained. He says the PM Cares Fund in which several industrialists contributed huge amounts of money has no transparency.

TRS Member Nama Nageswara Rao too endorses the Bill for reduction of MPs' salary, but says MPLADs should be kept.

Supriya Sule, NCP, asks the government why it does not reduce its own expenditure. "We are ready to give up our salaries but the Central Vista project must be cancelled," she says.

A. M. Arif of CPI(M) opposes freeze on MPLADs, but supports the Bill.

Jayadev Galla of TDP says his party fully supports the Bill, but says the government expenditure should be reduced. Delay certain expenditure which are not essential, he says. MPLADs should not be touched, he adds.

 MPLADs can be used for development of health care infrastructure, it should be restored, says MP Thomas Chazhikadan.

Bhagwant Mann, AAP, supports the Bill and says MPLADS should be restored. He stresses that this is the sense of the House.

The government can take away all our allowances, but it should restore the MPLADs, says independent MP Navneet Ravi Rana.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary says a unanimous resolution be passed for restitution of MPLADs, we rely on MPLADs to extend help to the people in our constituencies. "We were ready to provide masks, ventilators and even ambulances in our areas from the fund.

"Almost 80% of the fund is spent in rural areas; why are you taking away the funds meant to be spent on Scheduled Castes?" he asks. "Of the Rs. 2.69 lakh crore allocated during 2015-20 under the MPLAD head, Rs. 2.52 lakh crore was spent, such is the efficiency," he says. He urges the BJP MPs to express their support to the demand for restoration of MPLADs.

Mahua Moitra, TMC, urges the House to speak in one voice for restoration of MPLADS.

Lok Sabha | 4.15 pm

The Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill is being taken up, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi moves it for consideration.

Congress Member Dean Kuriakose says total collection from the salary deduction would be around ₹50 crore, which is very less compared to the economic package announced by the government in view of the COVID-19 outbreak. Due to several reasons, the decision to freeze MPLADs for two years was wrong.

BJP MP Vijay Baghel from Durg (Chhattisgarh) endorses the Bill, that proposes to replace an ordinance brought in April through which 30% salary of parliamentarians was deducted.

Dr. Kalanidhi Veeraswami says there are other ways to mobilise funds: "we had given the proposal that the amount of about ₹20,000 crore proposed to be spent on Central Vista project could instead be used to combat COVID-19".

YSRCP MP Midhun Reddy urges the government to increase MPLADs, but supports the deduction of salary.

TMC's Sougata Ray says the government should take away the entire salary of MPs, but retain the MPLADs. People from within the BJP should raise their voice on the issue. He also points out the proposed expenditure of ₹20,000 crore on Central Vista project. MPLADs should be kept, he reiterates.

BJD's Pinaki Misra says the entire House agrees with the Bill. However, he says taking away MPLADs will disempower the MPs. MPLADs should be restituted, he says.

Lok Sabha | 3.40 pm

Matters of urgent public importance are being discussed in the Lok Sabha:

Adoor Prakash of Congress raises the issue about political murders in the State. He requests that the murder investigation be handed over to the CBI.

CPI(M)’s S. Venkatesan raised issue about the suicides happening in Tamil Nadu because of the NEET. “From Anitha to Jothi Durga many students have killed themselves unable to write NEET.... Even though the Tamil Nadu Assembly adopted a resolution against the NEET, it was rejected by the Centre without even a proper reason.”

Congress leader Suresh Kodikunil raised issue of the Covid patient who was abused in an Ambulance in Kerala. He said it was heinous crime. Health and Family Welfare department should ask for full report regarding the incident, he requested.

Pratima Mondal (AITC) raises issue about online education and teaching in English language through virutal classrooms during Covid times.

S. Jothimani (Congress) raises issue about the corruption in PM Kisan scheme in Tamil Nadu. She requests for a detailed investigation into the scam.

Akali Dal's Sukhbir Singh Badal says Punjabi should have been included in the list of official languages in J&K.

Farooq Abdullah endorses it and says Pahari and Gojri should also be considered for inclusion.

Lok Sabha | 3.00 pm

The Lok Sabha assembles and papers are being laid on the table.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh makes a statement on "Developments on our borders in Ladakh":

“Our PM Narendra Modi had recently visited Ladakh and met the security forces. I too met the brave soldiers. Colonel Santosh Babu and 19 others made the supreme sacrifice. The boundary issues with China are still unresolved.

“Both the countries have been taking up these issues since 1950s, but they have not been resolved yet. It is a complex issue which has to be resolved through peaceful talks. Both countries have understood that peace and tranquillity along the LAC is important to resolve the issues.

“As per the agreements to maintain peace and tranquillity, there were improvements in relationship between the two countries from 1988 onwards. From 1990 to 2003, efforts were made to develop a common understanding. However, thereafter, China did not agree on the steps being taken.

“In April, along the eastern Ladakh, there was a built up from the Chinese side. They started creating hindrances in the normal patrolling operations by Indian forces. Necessary retaliatory action was taken by our forces.

“The increasing friction along LAC led both sides to hold meeting on June 6 at the ground level. An agreement was arrived at to desist from any measure to aggravate the situation further. However, despite this agreement, they indulged in misadventure in Galwan, which led to a face-off where Indian forces gave a befitting response. Indian forces inflicted heavy casualties on the Chinese side.

“We are in favour of peaceful resolution between the two sides, as per bilateral accords. The Chinese side also wants to address the issues as per the bilateral agreements. However, the agreements were disregarded by China by making heavy deployment of forces. Owing to their actions, there have been friction between the two sides along the LAC.

“The violent conduct of Chinese forces in the recent past is a violation...there are several friction areas, where India has also made counter deployments. Our armed forces will successfully face this challenge and safeguard the border. We are proud of our armed forces. Currently, sensitive operational issues are involved and therefore, I cannot divulge the details.

“I am assured that the House will understand the sensitivity of the situation. The efforts of armed forces must be appreciated. In the past few years, Indian government has emphasised on strengthening border infrastructure.

“I met my Chinese counterpart on Sept. 4 and conveyed our concerns, including heavy deployment and unilateral change of status quo. We want that India and China work together to resolve issues, but at the same time Indian government is committed to safeguarding the country's security and sovereignty.

“We are also committed to resolving the present issue and are prepared to face any challenge. As a tradition, this House has stood with our forces and expressed confidence in their capability to keep our borders safe. No one should have any doubts about their capability.

“The country's 130 crore population stand with them, this is the message which was conveyed by the Prime Minister during his visit to Ladakh. Appropriate supplies are being made available to the forces. There is no doubt that we are facing a major challenge in Ladakh, but we all are with our forces.

Many members in the House tried to raise questions as soon as Mr. Rajnath finished his statement. But the Speaker denied time to them by saying "The House has already agreed to not raise any questions on the Statements made by the [Defence] Minister’.

Lok Sabha | 2.00 pm

Bill for consideration and passing

Lok Sabha will assemble at 3 pm today. Three Bills are scheduled to be discussed.

  • The Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
  • The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
  • The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

All these Bills are replacing ordinances enacted during COVID-19 lockdown period. Opposition members are moving statutory resolutions against these ordinances.

Rajya Sabha | 12.45 pm

L. Hanumanthaiah (Congress) initiates the debate. While he appreciates the government's vision of creating an institute of national importance, the member points out lack of post graduate teachers and researchers in Ayurveda.

Ayurvedic products are estimated to be a market of $10 billion by 2022 so we need to improve research and training, he says.

Why not merge it with Ayurveda University in Jamnagar, he asks. He wonders if the guidelines will be different from that of Ayurveda University. Mr. Hanumanthaiah asks why Kerala was left out in the Bill. Karnataka has Sahayadri forests, which provides medicinal herbs.

Tamil Nadu is the pioneer in Siddha. Why not make an institute in Tamil Nadu? I would have been happy if these States are covered. But the government is concerned about Gujarat. There are more practitioners in Kerala than Gujarat, he says.

Mr. Hanumanthaiah says standardisation of methodology and evidence based medicine in Ayurveda is important to take it to the global level.

Ayurveda graduates are jobless today. Clinical trials are not being done adequately in Ayurveda. He points out lack of coordination between various research institutes.

House is adjourned for the day.

Rajya Sabha | 12.35 pm

House takes up The Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020. The Bill was passed in Lok Sabha during Budget session.

The Bill proposes to establish an Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda in Jamnagar, Gujarat. It will be an institute of national importance.

The Institute of Post Graduate Teaching and Research in Ayurveda, Shree Gulabkunverba Ayurved Mahavidyalaya, Jamnagar and the Indian Institute of Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical Sciences will be merged.

Harsh Vardhan moves the Bill since AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik is recovering from COVID-19.

Rajya Sabha | 12.00 noon

Rajya Sabha to discuss COVID-19 tomorrow

The House will now take up discussion on COVID-19 situation.

Binoy Viswom complains he is yet to get a copy of the statement. "Please wait Binoy Viswom ji. It will take time to come from earth to heaven," Mr. Naidu remarks. Mr. Viswom is seated in the gallery of the Rajya Sabha.

That's where CPI MP Binoy Viswom sits - in Rajya Sabha Gallary No. 4.

That's where CPI MP Binoy Viswom sits - in Rajya Sabha Gallary No. 4.   | Photo Credit: Courtesy RSTV

 

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan repeats his statement on COVID-19 that he read out in Lok Sabha on Monday.  Here is The Hindu's report on his statement.

Dr. Vardhan could not read out his statement in full in Lok Sabha yesterday due to paucity of time. Today, however, he is reading it in full.

Battle from pandemic is far from over. Even as were are in Unlock, community support is crucial to break the chain, Dr. Vardhan reiterates. He uses the term physical distancing instead of social distancing, probably taking a leaf out from Zero Hour mention.

Vice President asks if a short duration discussion can be taken up tomorrow. House agrees. Discussion tomorrow.

Rajya Sabha | 11.50 am

No compromise on aviation safety, says Puri

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri replies to members. In the last three years, we have recruited 1,000 air traffic controllers in the last three years. The vacancy stands at 3,500. It would have been filled up this year itself had COVID-19 not slowed down the process, he says.

In response to Mr. Tankha, Mr. Puri says AAI received Rs. 29,000 crores from privatisation and that money is used to develop other airports.

Mumbai and Delhi, the two privatised airports, account for 33% of our traffic and earnings. The six airports which were privatised in 2018 account for 9%. Mr. Puri says we went for open bidding. Mr. Patel clarifies the same law was used to privatise Bangalore airport too, which happened way before 2005.

On privatisation of Thiruvananthapuram airport, Mr. Puri says the bid couldn't be granted to Kerala government as it was 19% lesser than what was quoted by the successful bidder. Kerala MPs, both Congress and Left, oppose.

On Mr. Acharya's comments, Mr. Puri says the DGCA was awarded the President's Award for ICAO in 2019. We are in Category 1. We cannot be compared with Pakistan, which is in Category 2, he says.

When the Vande Bharat mission was planned for 1.3 lakh but we repatriated Around 16 lakh Indians. We got 36 lakh hits on the first day when we opened ticket booking, obviously the site will crash. Our prices were the lowest, he points out.

On Air India, the minister says the choice is between privatisation and closing it down.

The Bill is taken up for voting.  The Bill is passed.

Rajya Sabha | 11.40 am

Harshvardhan Singh Dungarpur (BJP) is the last speaker. He supports the Bill. He differs with Mr. Tankha on the poor safety standards. He says India certainly fares better than its South Asian peers. Mr. Singh also says the country needs more airports and existing airstrips can be developed as airports.

Rajya Sabha | 11.35 am

Why different punishments for Kunal Kamra and media personnel, asks Vivek Tankha

Vivek Tankha (Congress) presents four critiques to the Bill. He points India's safety audit declined in the last five years. We are claiming to become a superpower when our audit score is worse than Pakistan and North Korea, he adds.

Mr. Tankha says DGCA has not imposed any penalities so far, what is the point of enhancing it?

Citing the Kunal Kamra incident, Mr. Tankha points out no action was taken against media personnel covering the air travel of Kangana Ranaut. Mr. Kamra was given three-month ban, but media personnel were let off with warning.

On appointment of Director Generals, Mr. Tankha points out bureaucrats are being appointed in civil aviation bodies, while in other countries they appoint experts.

Mr. Tankha  also points out reduction in budget allocation for the ministry.

Rajya Sabha | 11.20 am

Binoy Viswom (CPI) speaks from Rajya Sabha gallery. He accuses the government of "frantically privatising everything". This government's policy is anti-worker, anti-labour. He also the government of making India "Adani's India".

K. Ravindra Kumar (TDP) says the Ministry needs to look at the issue of high rise buildings near airports.

Anil Desai (Shiv Sena) notes the civil aviation safety scores are low. He hopes the new Bill will improve it. He says the Minister should reconsider the government's superintendence over the statutory bodies. He also urges the government not to sell Air India, and asks the government to revive Jet Airways.

Sanjay Singh (AAP) recalls how during lockdown the bus fares and air fares for a trip from Delhi to Bihar was the same. He thanks the Minister for interfering and ensuring a Chhattisgarh patient got his air ambulance refund. He seeks the government to provide adequate compensation for Ayodhya land owners who are giving their land for Sri Ram Airport.

M. Thambidurai (AIADMK) seeks Union government to start Hosur airport under UDAN. Mr. Thambidurai, former Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker, spoke from Lok Sabha.

Lt. Gen (Retd) D.P. Vats (BJP) says there are 123 functional airports, if we include those operated by Air Force. There might be 488 airports, if we include air strips too, he observes. He suggests appointing Army veterans in these statutory bodies.

Rajya Sabha | 11.00 am

' Airports are huge opportunity for economic development'

Praful Patel (NCP), former Civil Aviation Minister, is the next speaker.  He says the Bill itself is important because with the growth of the sector you have to bring your regulations in line with the international requirements.

Mr. Patel points out there is a shortage for technical people to head statutory bodies. While we are making these three bodies statutory, we have not answered how they will be appointed. We are lacking in specialists, he says.

Airports in Jewar and Navi Mumbai were approved in 2007 and 2005, but till today they haven't been completed. There is a need to increase the number of airports, he observes.

If you want to sustain growth, there is a need to expand large airports. He pitches for additional airports in Chennai and Kolkata. Airports are huge opportunity for economic development, he says.

Rajya Sabha | 11.00 am

Aviation was in turbulence even before COVID: Manoj Jha

Manoj Jha (RJD) observes the aviation was in turbulence even before COVID due to policy or non-policy of the government. He wonders if the Minister spoke to stakeholders before taking decisions. He speaks on salary cuts and retrenchment of Air India employees.

Quid pro quo appears to the integral part of the government, he says. The government always goes for low hanging fruit. Many times it is dangerous, he warns.

Rajya Sabha | 10.50 am

Vijaisai Reddy (YSRCP) lauds the government for its Vande Bharat Mission. He also welcomes the Bill. Mr. Reddy speaks on dangers of tabletop runways. He also says commercial and defence aviation should be demerged. He notes the centralisation of power in aviation. He wants similar statutory bodies in Railways too.

Ram Chandra Prasad Singh (JD-U) uses the opportunity to draw the attention of the Minister on expansion of Patna airport and new airports in Darbhanga and Punia.

Jharna Das (CPI-M) claims the Adani group will be the principal beneficiary of the Bill. We should consider the social responsibility of airlines. She says Air India needs restructuring and not selling. She alleges the Centre wants to appoint its own people in statutory bodies. It is completely unethical.

Rajya Sabha | 10.45 am

Nod for Bill, not for aviation industry

Vishambar Prasad Nishad (SP) wants to know what will be the fate of employees of Air India, after the entity is sold. He seeks to know how many poor people managed to utilise the services of UDAN.

Mr. Nishad also speaks on flexi-fares, how airlines are making money in the times of crisis.

P. Wilson (DMK) says his party welcomes the Bill but there is a complete letdown of the airport industry. He wants the Minister to reconsider Section 4(D) of the Bill that gives overwhelming powers to statutory bodies. He seeks further development of airports in Tamil Nadu, including Chennai airport. He seeks a separate law for airport land acquisition.

Rajya Sabha | 10.40 am

'Safety and security prime concerns'

Prasanna Acharya (BJD) says it is a good Bill.  He says India fares poorer than Pakistan and Nepal in aviation safety audit. We fared poorly in security audit too. It is very discouraging.

I am happy that safety and security concerns are addressed in the Bill. The increase in penalty is also a good feature.

He wants to know whether there is provision for appeal in the courts, if a person is not happy with the statutory bodies' decisions.

He also seeks to know why Air India is unable to run with full occupancy when private airlines are able to do so.

Rajya Sabha | 10.30 am

'Don't sell Air India'

Dinesh Trivedi (Trinamool) speaks in Bengali. He thanks party chief Mamata Banerjee for giving him an opportunity to serve in Rajya Sabha.

Mr. Trivedi, continuing in English, praises Mr. Puri for his Vande Bharat mission. When you compliment Vande Bharat Mission, remember it was Air India, that came to the rescue. There will be no private sector, if Air India was not there. He requests the government not to sell Air India.

Mr. Trivedi, a trained pilot, says Aircraft Act has to be completely revamped as it has become outdated now. The amendment is welcome, but we need an overhaul, he says.

Rajya Sabha | 10.20 am

'Air travel for all, not just elites'

GVL Narasimha Rao (BJP) notes the civil aviation sector has undergone transformation. The passenger traffic has more than doubled in the last five years.  He speaks on government's flagship UDAN scheme. He claims to have travelled from Vijayawada to Kadapa in just Rs. 800.

The objective of the Prime Minister is to make air travel safer and accessible for all sections of society, not just the elite, says Mr. Rao.

He lauds government's Vande Bharat mission to evacuate Indians from across the world during COVID-19 lockdown. 

Mr. Rao says the real crony capitalism was seen during UPA era and cities 2G and coal auctions, says Mr. Rao inviting the ire of opposition. Deputy Chairperson Harivansh intervenes.

Mr. Rao continues. He speaks on how the new policy will create employments and reduce cost of operation for airlines.

Rajya Sabha | 10.05 am

Fear favouritism in awarding six airports to Adani, says Congress MP

Rajya Sabha member K.C. Venugopal during a debate on Aircraft (Amendment) Bill on September 15, 2020.

Rajya Sabha member K.C. Venugopal during a debate on Aircraft (Amendment) Bill on September 15, 2020.  

 

K.C. Venugopal (Congress) highlights the near-miss incidents. He says this could be due to shortage of flight security officers. He also recalls the Karipur aircraft tragedy. "We still don't know the reason for the cause of the accident," he says. Mr. Venugopal raises doubts on table top airports handling wider aircrafts.

Mr. Venugopal fears crony capitalism in privatisation of airports. How come all the six bids were won by Adani group? Were conditions modified to help Adani, he asks.  Citing DEA and Niti Ayog reports, he says the government favoured one company by ignoring its own recommendations.

There is a move to monopolise Indian airports, he says. AAI (Airport Authority of India) will become AAA, Airport Authority of Adani, he warns.  The government is ignoring State government, he blames and seeks enquiry into awarding contracts to Adani.

Rajya Sabha | 10.00 am

What is the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 about?

The Bill seeks to convert DGCA, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security , and Aircraft Accidents Investigation Bureau to statutory bodies.

Under the Act, the penalty for various offences is imprisonment of up to two years, or a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh, or both.  These offences include: (i) carrying arms, explosives, or other dangerous goods aboard aircraft, (ii) contravening any rules notified under the Act, and (iii) constructing building or structures within the specified radius around an aerodrome reference point.  The Bill raises the maximum limit on fines for all these offences from Rs 10 lakh to one crore rupees.

Lok Sabha passed the Bill during Budget session

Rajya Sabha | 10.00 am

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri during a debate in Rajya Sabha on September 15, 2020.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri during a debate in Rajya Sabha on September 15, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Courtesy RSTV

 

The House takes up discussion on The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020. Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri speaks about the Bill.  He lists the achievements in civil aviation. He also explains the COVID-induced challenges and how the ministry was overcoming it.

Mr. Puri says by the time we reach Diwali and towards the end of the year, we would have pre-COVID 3,00,000 passengers a day.

Chairman Venkaiah Naidu says  Civil Aviation Minister can shed some light on resumption of international flights after discussing with External Affairs Minister.

Rajya Sabha | 9.50 am

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan seeks to withdraw The Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018. The bill is withdrawn.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman introduces The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan introduces The National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020.

Rajya Sabha | 9.45 am

Santanu Sen (Trinamool) wants use the term physical distancing, instead of social distancing. It is only increasing social stigma. The Chair suggests safe distancing as the alternative term. A member suggest "mutual distancing", the Chair says it will lead to problem at homes.

Tiruchi Siva (DMK) speaks on digital divide. Sasmit Patra (BJD) seeks land in Delhi for establishing Odisha cultural centre.

P.L.Poonia (Congress) says the migrants who returned to their homelands should be given jobs through MNREGA.

Anil Desai (Shiv Sena) says the hike of platform tickets should be revoked. It has been hiked from Rs. 10 to Rs. 50.

Rajya Sabha | 9.35 am

Ripun Bora (Congress) speaks on closure of two paper mills in Assam.

Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) says industries have shut down due to the lockdown and the result is that people are suffering from depression. He says government should give those who lost their jobs Rs 15,000

Anand Sharma (Congress) speaks on rise in suicides. India accounts 15% of suicides in the world. He says there is a 4% increase in suicides. He also speaks on mental health issues, especially after COVID-19 and lockdown. Mental Health demands active policy intervention, he says. He wants life insurance to cover mental illness too.

K.C. Ramamoorthy (BJP) speaks against online Rummy. It is nothing but gambling, it has to be banned, he says. Cricketers and film stars are advertising it. They should also refrain, he says. The Chair says, though it is a State subject, Law Minister should look into it.

Rajya Sabha | 9.30 am

Maratha reservation: Two perspectives

Sambhaji Chatrapati (BJP) speaks in Marathi. He raises the issue of Supreme Court quashing quota for Marathas. He asks State government to take cue from Tamil Nadu and provide quota for Marathas.

Rajeev Satav (Congress) also speaks on Maratha reservation, but he speaks in Hindi. Mr. Satav blames the Centre for not presenting their views in the Supreme Court. Mr. Satav addresses the Chair as Speaker. Mr. Naidu says your in Upper House and seated in upper gallery. So address the Chair as Chairperson.

Rajya Sabha | 9.25 am

Jaya Bachchan during a debate in Rajya Sabha on September 15, 2020.

Jaya Bachchan during a debate in Rajya Sabha on September 15, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Courtesy RSTV

 

Jaya Bachchan (SP) removes her mask while speaking. The Chair asks her to wear it. She says she won't be audible. "I'll clean the microphone, sir," she says. She speaks about online harassment of actors and celebrities.  Govt should stand by the entertainment industry. People who earned fame through the industry are speaking ill of it, I am embarrassed and ashamed, she says.

Rajya Sabha | 9.20 am

'Censor for web series'

Vikas Mahatme (BJP) speaks from Rajya Sabha gallery. He says web series should also be certified like movies. He highlights the recent agitation in Maharashtra over wrong potrayal of a leader. Web series show abusive language, sex scandals etc, but there is no law to regulate it, he points out. The Chair agrees with him.

Chhaya Verma (Congress) speaks from Lok Sabha. "But I am a Rajya Sabha member," she says. I didn't de-promote you. Your leaders Azadji and Ramesh are responsible, Mr. Naidu says. She speaks on MNREGA.

Newly-elected member Suresh Reddy (TRS) speaks on water sharing between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

M. Shanmugam (DMK) speaks from Lok Sabha. He speaks on PM-KISAN scheme. He wants tenant farmers also to be included in the scheme. He says, in fact, all farmers should be included.

Rajya Sabha | 9.15 am

Rajya Sabha now takes up motions for election of members for various boards.

The Chairperson moves to Zero Hour. He suggests the mentions be made within two minutes.

Vijaisai Reddy (YSRCP) is the first speaker. He seeks the Centre to release funds allocated to Polavaram project.  Mr. Reddy is speaking from the Rajya Sabha chambers. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman responds. I am in touch with the water resources minister and State finance minister. I'll follow it up, she says.

Rajya Sabha | 9 am

Today is September 15, International Day of Democracy, Chairperson M. Venkaiah Naidu informs the House, as Rajya Sabha assembles.

We as legislators are flagbearers of democracy, he says.

The members are requested to identify themselves and mention where they are speaking, so that I can follow you, and it will be easy for the officials also, says Mr. Naidu.

The Chair acknowledges that there were some issues pertaining audio yesterday. There will be a mock session at 7.30 am, he says.

Papers are being laid on the table of the House.

8.50 am

List of Bills for introduction

  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020.
  • The National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020.

Bills for consideration and passing

  • The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
  • The Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020.
  • The Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Bills for withdrawal

  • The Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018.
8.30 am

Will PM speak in Parliament on China issue, asks Congress

The government should give a clarification on the India-China border issue, the Congress said on Monday, the first day of the monsoon session of Parliament.

Speaking to reporters, Deputy Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi said that the government had so far not said a word on when this subject would come for a debate in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi had been questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence. “Will the Prime Minister speak on this issue? These are clarifications, we did not want debate, but, at least a clarification should be given on day one as the entire country is watching,” Mr. Gogoi said.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2020 9:27:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/parliament-proceedings-live-sept-15/article32605980.ece

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