For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in March 2020, sessions of both Houses of Parliament- the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, will be held simultaneously ending the two-shift routine followed since September last.
Addressing a press conference ahead of the monsoon session, scheduled to begin on July 19 and go on till August 13, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said that 323 Lok Sabha members have been fully vaccinated, while 23 have not been able to take their first jab due to some medical reasons. In the Upper House, 205 members have got both the vaccine shots, 16 took the first dose and six could not take any of the shots due to medical reasons.
‘No laxity in protocol’
Mr. Birla said that while the high percentage of fully vaccinated members was a relief, there would be no laxity in the COVID-19 protocol. All members would be expected to wear masks both inside the House chamber and outside. No visitors or MPs’ staff would be allowed within the premises.
The only difference this time would be that the members would sit in their respective chambers. In the last two sessions, to maintain social distancing, the Rajya Sabha met in the morning and the Lok Sabha in the afternoon, with members of sitting spread out in the two chambers.
Mr. Birla said the new Parliament building, which was under construction as part of the Central Vista, would be in place in time. “The construction is about 10 days behind the schedule but will be completed soon,” he noted.
The parliamentary secretariat had developed an online application, on which live telecast of the proceedings could be seen. People would also be able to access the questions and answers tabled. This would be a “one-stop solution” for all parliamentary matters.
Mr. Birla said that despite COVID-19, the 17th Lok Sabha had transacted a record business during the first five sessions compared to the previous Lok Sabhas. The 17th one had seen the highest number of sittings compared to the 14th, 15th and 16th Lok Sabhas, which was reflected in the record productivity of the House.
Since the pandemic began, three sessions of Parliament were curtailed while the winter session last year had to be cancelled.