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Amid rising Covid-19 cases, Parliament prepares for Monsoon Session


New Delhi, Aug 16: The monsoon session of Parliament, one of its kind, since the coronavirus lockdown was declared in March, to be held in compliance with the social distancing norm under the coronavirus induced restrictions.

Representational Image

The Monsoon Session is likely to begin in the last week of August or early September.

Work is in progress at a fast pace for ensuring several additional installations in prescribed time like four large display screens in the chamber of the House.

Both chambers and galleries during the session. This is the first time in the history of Indian Parliament since 1952 that such an arrangement will be in place, where 60 members will be seated in the chamber and 51 in the galleries of Rajya Sabha and the remaining 132 in the chamber of Lok Sabha. Similar seating arrangements are being worked out by the Lok Sabha Secretariat as well.

For the first time, large display screens and consoles for participation from galleries, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, special cables between the two Houses and polycarbonate separators will be in place.

"Another 6 small screens in 4 galleries of House, audio consoles in galleries, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, special cables connecting two Houses for transmission of audio-visual signals, polycarbonate sheet separating Official Gallery from chamber of the House," said a statement from RS Secretariat.

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"All these arrangements mark the first of its kind session to be held in compliance with the social distancing norm under the #coronavirus induced restrictions," it said.

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu after detailed examination of various options for holding the session decided on using the chambers and galleries of both the Houses.

Naidu has directed officials to complete preparations for the session by the third week of August when testing, rehearsal and final inspection would be carried out.

The Rajya Sabha Secretariat has been working overtime for the last two weeks to ensure full preparedness, officials said. While both Houses usually function simultaneously, this time due to extraordinary circumstances, one House will sit during morning hours and the other in the evening.

The last Budget Session of Parliament had to be curtailed in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and both Houses were adjourned sine die on March 23.

As per precedent, Parliament has to be convened before the end of six months from the last session.

Various parties will be allotted seats in the chamber and galleries of Rajya Sabha based on respective strength and the remaining will be seated in the chamber of Lok Sabha in two blocks meant for ruling parties and the others, they said.

Inside the Rajya Sabha chamber, seats will be earmarked for the Prime Minister, Leader of the House, Leader of the Opposition and leaders of other parties.

Former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and H D Deve Gowda, besides Union ministers and Rajya Sabha members Ram Vilas Paswan and Ramdas Athawale, will also have earmarked seats in the chamber of the House. Other ministers will be seated in the seats meant for the ruling party members.

All the seats in the galleries are being fitted with consoles to enable participation of members in the proceedings of the House from their seats. Placards will indicate the parties accommodated in each gallery of the Rajya Sabha.

Special cables are being laid connecting the two Houses of Parliament for transmitting audio-visual signals of the proceedings both ways without any time lag to enable real-time participation of members seated in the two Houses.

Seating in the Officials Gallery and Press Gallery will also be in conformity with social distancing norm, each accommodating 15 persons.

Only a limited number of secretariat officials will be seated at the Table of the House and the Reporters (for taking verbatim note of proceedings of the House) will be accommodated in the special box meant for foreign dignitaries.

The three interpretation booths of Rajya Sabha will be integrated with audio systems for simultaneous interpretation for the benefit of the members seated in both the Houses. RSTV and LSTV, through their existing arrangements in both the Houses, will enable live telecast of the proceedings of the two Houses besides displaying the proceedings of each of the Houses on the screens in the other House.

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