Amid speculation over how and when the Winter Session of Parliament will be held amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and rising cases in the national capital, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Saturday said the Lok Sabha secretariat is ready to hold the session and dates are decided by the government.
At a press conference, Om Birla said the Monsoon session was held with all precautions amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the Parliamentary standing committees have also been meeting regularly. He informed that the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs decides the dates of the session and the government discusses the same with opposition parties. He also announced that a two-day all-India presiding officers' meet will be held from November 25 in Kevadia near Vadodra with President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu gracing the occasion. PM Modi will also attend the event.
Earlier, during the Monsoon session, all MPs were asked to undergo a COVID test and only those with a negative report were allowed to sit in the session. The security and secretarial staff in Parliament were also asked to take coronavirus tests before their entry. While on the first day of the session, Lok Sabha sat from 9 AM to 1 PM, Rajya Sabha sat in the evening at 3 PM. On the rest of the days, Rajya Sabha sat for four hours in the morning and Lok Sabha in the evening. The chambers of both houses and the galleries were used for each of the session of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and big screens were put up to enable members to see the proceedings all over the Parliament.
The DRDO provided multi-utility COVID-19 kits to all MPs. Each kit had 40 disposable masks, five N-95 masks, 20 bottles of sanitisers of 50 ml each, face shields, 40 pairs of gloves, a touch-free hook to open and close doors without touching them, herbal sanitation wipes and tea bags to enhance immunity.
The Health Ministry had suggested that the movement of Members of Parliament in chambers of both the houses can be made unidirectional to avoid face-to-face interactions. Touchless sanitisers were kept at 40 different places within the Parliament House complex, and emergency medical teams and ambulances were stationed. Question Hour during the session was cancelled and Zero Hour was held for 30 minutes.