Preparing himself to preside over the upcoming Monsoon Session of the Parliament beginning on September 14, 2020, the Chairman, Rajya Sabha, M. Venkaiah Naidu underwent COVID-19 test today.
It is mandatory for each Member to undergo COVID-19 test (RT-PCR) before attending the upcoming Monsoon Session, according to an advisory issued to all Rajya Sabha Members.
The Members have been asked to get their test done within 72 hours before the commencement of the Session at any hospital/laboratory authorized by the Government or at Parliament House Complex.
For the convenience of the Members, three Test Centres are functioning in Parliament House Annexe from today. The members have also been requested to ensure that their test report is sent in advance to the Rajya Sabha Secretariat via a designated e-mail so as to avoid any inconvenience at the time of their entry into the Parliament House during the Session.
Similarly, RT-PCR test has been made mandatory for the employees of Parliament Secretariats and other agencies deployed in Parliament House Complex who remain in close proximity of the Members during the course of performance of their duties. Also, arrangements have been put in place from today to conduct Rapid Antigen Test for the personal staff and drivers of MPs at the Reception Office, Parliament House.
The Rajya Sabha Chairman has been regularly reviewing the special precautionary/remedial measures taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 infection and to ensure well-being of the Members during the Session. The Chairman has issued strict instructions to senior officials of the Secretariat not to be complacent about the risk of the infection and to strictly adhere to the guidelines specified.
Risk mitigation and protection of the Members’ health have been the uppermost concerns for the Chairman. He has held meetings with the Secretaries of Home, Health & Family Welfare, Chairman/DRDO, DG/ICMR to ensure safety of the members and officials.
In order to ensure social distancing norms, the Rajya Sabha chamber, galleries and the Lok Sabha chamber will be used to seat members–57 of whom will be accommodated in the chamber and 51 in galleries of Rajya Sabha. The remaining 136 will be seated in the chamber of Lok Sabha. In all, there are 244 members and one seat is vacant.
Each seat has been provided with a microphone and a sound console to enable to participate in the discussion. Members are now allowed to speak while sitting when called keeping in view of the safety of Members.
As regards seating of the members at the three locations, respective leaders of the parties/ groups have been intimated the number of seats allocated to them propionate to their strength in all three locations. Respective leaders of the parties/ groups may decide where their party members will sit at the three locations
Four large display screens in the chamber will show the members speaking and there will be seamless live telecast of the proceedings on Rajya Sabha TV. In addition, six smaller display screens and audio consoles have been installed in the four galleries.
As part of ensuring the safety of members and officials, the Chairman, Venkaiah Naidu desires all the members to make full use of the e-Notice facility and serve notices in electronic mode, instead of physically giving them.
It has also been decided to send various Parliamentary papers including List of Business, Bulletins, Bills/ and ordinances to members only through electronic mechanism. Members can access their portal accounts. Accordingly, the circulation of hard copies of these papers is being discontinued. Members may bring their e-Reader devices to the House to refer to the Parliamentary papers or carry print-outs of the same for their use.
The Chairman has sought the cooperation of the Members and urged them to strictly observe all the health protocols relating to COVID-19 as specified by different agencies.
DRDO will also provide multi utility Covid kits to all MPs. Each kit will contain disposable Three ply masks (40), N-95 masks without wall (5), 20 bottles of sanitizers of 50 ml each, Face shields made of polypropelene (5), gloves (40), touch free hook (to open and close doors without touching them) , Sea Buck Thorn tea bags which enhance immunity and herbal sanitation wipes (variant of tissue papers).
Marshals standing on both sides of the Chairman have been advised to wear both masks and face shields while assisting the Chairman.
Meanwhile, Bhupender Yadav, MP and Chairman, Department-related Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice has submitted an interim report on “Functioning of Virtual Courts/ Court proceedings through video conferencing” to the Chairman at Upa-Rashtrapati Nivas today.