Parliament likely to curtail session due to COVID-19, LS floor leaders may meet later today

The government is contemplating curtailing the ongoing Monsoon Session in view of the rising COVID-19 cases amongst MPs, but nothing has been finalised so far, sources said on Saturday.

The Lok Sabha floor leaders of different parties are likely to meet later in the day to deliberate on the issue, the sources said.

However, before taking any final decision, the government wants to take all parties on board and also get 11 ordinances passed as laws by Parliament, they said.

The Lok Sabha has so far passed three Bills to replace agriculture sector related ordinances. Also, both the Houses have cleared an ordinance into law to cut by 30 per cent the salaries of members of Parliament to ramp up funds in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sources said that amid some Members of Parliament testing positive for COVID-19 during the session, Opposition parties conveyed to the government that conducting the full 18-day session could be a risky affair.

The government then started thinking in that direction, the sources said.

Union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Prahlad Patel have tested positive for COVID-19. Both had attended the ongoing session which began on September 14.

Several MPs had tested positive for COVID-19 around the time the session began and they were advised not to attend proceedings.

In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus within the parliament complex, reporters and parliamentary staff entering the premises now have to undergo the rapid antigen test mandatory on a daily basis, according to a new protocol put in place.

Members of both Houses are undergoing RT-PCR test on regular intervals on a voluntary basis, said a senior Parliament official.

A member of Parliament can undergo RT-PCR test as many times he or she likes.

Journalists covering the Monsoon session from the press galleries of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha also have the option to undergo the RT-PCR test which is valid for 72 hours.

Since the report of the much reliable RT-PCR takes time, antigen test has been made mandatory on a daily basis.

Government officials accompanying their respective ministers during bill discussions also have to show a negative report of RT-PCR test taken within the last 72 hours of their visit to the complex.

The session began on September 14 and is slated to end on October 1. Both the House are meeting in shifts of four hours each without a customary Saturday-Sunday weekend break.

The Budget Session was short-terminated in March after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in