The Centre is keen to bring its “go green initiative” to the hallowed portals of Parliament and State Assemblies and move to paperless functioning and digitised proceedings.
On Monday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar is expected to float the ‘paper-free’ plan at a two-day All India Chief Whips Conference at Udaipur, where rolling out eSansad and eVidhan is part of the agenda.
Chief Whips — lawmakers who enforce party discipline and ensure the party line is followed in Parliament and Assemblies — from across the country will attend.
Going paperless and achieving more automation in State legislatures and Parliament is part of the Modi government’s Digital India plans.
Over the past few years, the Union government has cut down on printing of hard copies of parliamentary documents and reports. In 2016, for instance, the government more than halved the number of printed Budget copies from the previous figure of 5,100. In 2017, on Budget day, only Members of Parliament got hard copies as the Finance Ministry put the Budget speech and proposals on its websites within minutes of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley concluding it.
Apart from saving on costs and paper, an official said, going paperless in Parliament and State Legislatures is “responsive, transparent, productive and more accountable to the public.”
Lawmakers say the idea is good but tough to implement. “It sounds very nice when we say paperless, but it’s like saying cashless after demonetisation. By the next decade, if we get halfway there, we could consider ourselves lucky,” said Derek O’Brien, Leader of the Trinamool Congress in the Rajya Sabha.
D. Raja of the Communist Party of India agrees. “I was a member of a delegation led by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to South Korea where we saw MPs had their own keyboards and terminals at their seats. It’s good but we cannot shift to such a system overnight,” he said. The Chief Whips will get a chance to suggest ways for efficient working of Parliament and State legislatures. Their ideas will be sent to Chief Ministers and the Parliamentary Affairs Minister.