Parliament Winter session | Lok Sabha sees sporadic Opposition protests; Rajya Sabha passes the Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Bill

December 08, 2022 08:38 pm | Updated 08:38 pm IST

Minister of Environment Bhupender Yadav replying to the debate on The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022.

Minister of Environment Bhupender Yadav replying to the debate on The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022.

The Lok Sabha largely conducted business as usual on Thursday barring the sporadic protests from Opposition parties over the border issues between Maharashtra and Karnataka. Congress also tried to raise the India-China border tensions but was denied permission. Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha further debated the Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and it was eventually passed. The Upper House also took up the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, for consideration and passing.

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Lok Sabha

Some members of the Opposition staged a walkout from the Lok Sabha on the second day, accusing the Speaker of declining permission to raise various issues in the House.

Proceedings began with Question Hour during which Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat remarked that Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury should worry more about the downfall of his party than the damage caused by a river breach. The remarks were in reply to a question asked by Mr. Chowdhury regarding damage caused due to a river breach in his constituency.

Mr. Chowdhury requested Speaker Om Birla to allow him to raise the issue of heightened Chinese activity along the Indian border but was refused. A heated discussion on the Maharashtra-Karnataka dispute followed among allegations of disrespect meted out to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Following noisy scenes, the House was adjourned for an hour.

During Zero Hour, YSR Congress Party MP Chinta Anuradha asked the Centre to introduce an exclusive train for women to ensure their safety and security.

Earlier, DMK’s T. Sumathy Thamizhachi Thangapandian raised the issue of the women’s reservation bill. Hitting out at the NDA government over delaying in bringing the Bill to Parliament, the MP said, “It has been nine years since the NDA government came to power with a thumping majority, but the Bill has not seen the light of the day. This shows that everything is a sham and a farce.”

“The PM and Cabinet ministers talk about uplifting women... if they mean to do what they say, this Bill should be taken up,” she added.

Meanwhile, in a reply, the Ministry of Civil Aviation informed the Lok Sabha that there have been a total of 23 emergency landings across airlines since January 1, 2020. Responding to a query on the Udaan scheme, the ministry said that 70 airports have been operationalised in the country so far. The Centre has set a target to operationalise 100 additional airports by 2024.

The Lower House continued its discussion about the need to promote sports in India and the steps taken by the Government in this regard. The discussion was under Rule 193 of the proceeding’s regulations.

Several members expressed their opinions about improving the infrastructure and facilities, in addition to improving the corporate involvement and promoting regional sports. Many also stressed on the importance of sports for a healthy living and inculcating team spirit.

Member of Parliament from Sivaganga (Tamil Nadu) Karti Chidambaram said that India did not possess a society prioritising sport rather it was embroiled in a vertex of “examination, tuition and homework”.

He suggested that more sports avenues should be furthered in the country, saying that there should be no school allowed to function without its own playing ground. He also demanded that physical education teachers be accorded the same respect as other teachers in a school and physical education be made compulsory and a qualifying criterion for students to be able to write board exams.

He also advocated for government organisations to hire more sports people, not tying them to desk jobs but travel throughout the country to spot talent.

Members also stated that the treasury must work towards ensuring that CSR budgets are utilised for uplifting sports.

He called building large stadiums a “waste of money” and batted for smaller stadiums which could be dismantled and moved elsewhere. He stressed on bringing international coaches and newer technologies for players.

He also remarked that India must not bid for the Olympics. “In your ego, do not bid for the Olympics. It will bankrupt the country and not do anything,” he stated. The house then concluded at 6 p.m. to reconvene at 11 a.m. on December 9 (Friday).

Rajya Sabha

The Rajya Sabha commenced its proceedings with the usual presentation and laying of reports under progress, including statements from parliamentary standing committees related to labour and information technology.

Following this, Chairman Jagdeep Dhankar mentioned that he received Section 267 from members. Among these was a Suspension of Business notice from the Nationalist Congress Party and Congress to discuss alleged outrageous remarks by the Maharashtra Governor pertaining to the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute.

Disallowing the notices, the Chairman proceeded to discuss the rule at length, saying that the notices did not mention which rule must be suspended. He said there will be ‘structured discussion’ of the matters raised by members if they follow the required procedure, and decided to proceed with the business of the House.

The Chair paused the proceedings briefly to welcome Advocate Jacob Francis Nzwidamilimo Mudenda, the Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and members of the parliamentary delegation of Zimbabwe on a visit to India, who were in attendance in a special box.

The Chair also said that the world will look to ‘feast’ on India’s cultural wealth during G-20 and called for inputs and suggestions in this regard within a fortnight. Leader of the House Piyush Goyal complimented him on this initiative. The House was adjourned till 2 p.m. after Question Hour and resumed at 2 p.m.

The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill was taken up for consideration and passing. Several members of the Opposition raised various concerns about the bill particularly about the transportation of live elephants and expressed concerns about the animal’s protection.

Congress MP Jairam Ramesh rose to oppose the Bill in its current form while noting that Minister of Environment Bhupender Yadav accepted some recommendations from the Standing Committee and cleaned up the Schedules, and further dropped the most dangerous amendment relating to the transport of live elephants.

However, Mr. Ramesh reiterated concerns regarding the protection of elephants under the Act. The elephant is a national heritage animal for India, he said. The Standing Committee accepted the religious significance of the elephant, but the Minister has included the words “any other purpose,” he pointed out and asked the Minister to explain their meaning and that they be deleted from the Act.

Following the discussion, Mr. Yadav replied to the debate and thanked the Standing Committee for several of its recommendations. He assured that the rules will be framed in accordance with the provisions of the Act to protect the elephant community.

Addressing concerns raised on the phrase ‘any other purpose’ in the bill, the Minister said that it was done keeping in mind the Section 38 of the bill. The Minister also acknowledged a concern about Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and said that it was a part of the State’s cultural heritage and that the law and culture must both be protected. The bill was eventually passed in the Upper House following a voice vote.

The House then took up The Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, and the Minister of New and Renewable Energy Raj Kumar Singh highlighted the country’s commitments in various global conferences to reduce emissions and transition towards clean energy sources.

He said that India’s per-capita emissions are one-third of the global average and contributed very less to the total load of carbon dioxide of the world. The country has emerged as one of the leading nations in energy transition and climate action. He said that currently 42% of India’s power generation capacity is from non-fossil fuels.

Several members rose to express their concerns about parts of the bill. Abhishek Manu Sighvi of the Congress and Trinamool Congress MP Jawhar Sircar spoke mentioned about various issues such as the agencies the bill intends to create for issuing carbon credit certificates, steep penalties for those non-compliant, reducing carbon footprints across various activities such as construction, transition to non-fossil fuels and the merits of carbon credit system.

DMK’s Kanimozhi Somu mentioned the need to create an adequate workforce in the animation, visual effects, gaming and comics (AVGC) industry. Neeraj Dangi of the Congress raised the issue of unregulated fee-hike by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM). Other issues such as the situation on the border between India and Myanmar and the introduction of GM mustard were also mentioned. The House then adjourned for the day and would reconvene at 11 a.m. on December 9 (Friday).

Compiled by Sumeda, Saptaparno Ghosh, Srivatsan K C and Sruthi Darbhamulla.

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