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    Arrangements for upcoming monsoon session of Parliament to be in place by weekend

    Synopsis

    Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, who had held a meeting with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on July 17, has directed that the additional installations be put up at a fast pace.

    New Delhi: The upcoming monsoon session of Parliament is likely to see several new features in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the secretariat has been directed to put in place large display screens, consoles, special cables between the two House chambers and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation to prevent infections, besides separating the galleries with polycarbonate sheets.

    Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu has set a deadline of this weekend for putting up the new arrangements, sources said. The translation facilities and other changes will then be tested and rehearsed before the go-ahead for holding the session is given.

    Though no date has been fixed yet for the start of the session, some MPs said they have been given feelers that the session is likely to begin in the second week of September. There is usually a 14-day gap between the announcement and commencement of a Parliament session.

    Since the last budget session had ended on March 23, the monsoon session has to be held before September 23 when the six month gap period allowed between two sessions ends.

    There is no clarity yet on whether the two Houses will meet daily — with Lok Sabha in the morning and Rajya Sabha in the afternoon — or on alternate days. No guests will be allowed in this session and the media will also have restricted entry.

    Naidu, who had held a meeting with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on July 17, has directed that the additional installations be put up at a fast pace. These include four large display screens in the House chamber, six small screens in the four galleries of the House, audio consoles in the galleries, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation in the air conditioning systems for killing bacteria and virus, special cables connecting the two Houses for transmission of audio-visual signals, and polycarbonate sheet separating the officials’ gallery from the chamber.

    Interpretation booths have also been altered accordingly. Some MPs have expressed apprehensions about attending the Parliament proceedings, including committee meetings, due to the growing number of Covid cases. They had written to the respective presiding officers of the two Houses to hold the session through videoconferencing.

    However, Naidu and Birla have ruled this out due to several constraints regar-ding voting, adjournments and so on. Sources said as per the arrangements agreed upon after several meetings, the Rajya Sabha chamber and galleries, and the Lok Sabha chamber will be used for seating the members of the Upper House.

    60 members, including all ministers, will be seated in the RS chamber, 51in the galleries of the RS (leaving out the first row) and the remaining 132 in the Lok Sabha chamber. The Lok Sabha may use the Central Hall and the Balayogi auditorium in the Parliament library as it has 542 members, while the Rajya Sabha strength is 241.

    The members will be allotted seats in various places based on the respective strength of the political parties. Besides the PM and leader of the opposition, seats in the Rajya Sabha chamber will also be allotted to former PMs Manmohan Singh and HD Deve Gowda as well as ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Ramdas Athawale.

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