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Social distancing, bacteria-killing device and 10 screens: Parliament readies for monsoon session

After a detailed examination of multiple options discussed, both Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla decided on using the chambers and galleries of both the Houses under the prevailing conditions.

Published: 16th August 2020 03:59 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th August 2020 05:45 PM   |  A+A-

Parliament House, Monsoon session

Parliament House (Photo | PTI)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Rajya Sabha Secretariat has been working overtime for the last two weeks to ensure a smooth functioning of the Parliament for the upcoming monsoon session in the third week of August.  

To comply with the directions issued by Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, officials concerned have expedited their work to make sure the additional installations are done in the prescribed time, 

New additions

Some of these include four large display screen in the chamber of the House, six smaller screens in the four galleries along with audio consoles, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, special cables connecting the two Houses for transmission of audio video signals, polycarbonate sheet separating the official gallery from the chamber of the house.  

"All these arrangements mark the first of its kind session which will be held in compliance with the social distancing norms as necessiated by the coronavirus pandemic. Among these, using the chambers and galleries of both the Houses for holding the session will the first ever major change in the history of the Indian Parliament since 1952, an official of the RS Secretariat told The New Indian Express. 

After a detailed examination of multiple options discussed at a meeting last month, both Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla decided on using the chambers and galleries of both the Houses for enabling the monsoon session under the prevailing restrictions. 

Subsequently, senior officials of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat held detailed discussions with all the agencies concerned and firmed up the special arrangements to be made.

"We were directed to ensure all arrangements are made by the third week of this month for testing, rehearsal and final inspection. Chambers and galleries of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha chamber will be used for seating the members of the House during the monsoon session," the official added. 

This includes, 60 members in the chamber and 51 in the galleries of Rajya Sabha (leaving out the first row) as per the social distancing norm and the remaining 132 (including bye-polls for two seats) in the chamber of Lok Sabha.  

Seating arrangements

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.
    
In 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 and former Leaders of the House Dr.Manmohan Singh and H.D.Deve Gowda besides Ramvilas Paswan and Ramdas Athawale, being Ministers and members of the House will also have allotted seats in the chamber of the House. Other ministers will be seated in the seats meant for the ruling party. 
    
"Four large display screens of 85” size each in the chamber and another six of 40” size each in the four galleries of the House are being installed so that the members can watch the proceedings conveniently. 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," it said further.

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. 

Polycarbonate sheets will separate the Officials Gallery of Rajya Sabha from the chamber as both are in close proximity. Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation system in the air conditioning system of Rajya Sabha for killing the bacteria and virus in air supply is also under consideration. 

Seating in the Officials Gallery and Press Gallery will also be in conformity with social distancing norm, each accommodating 15. Only limited number of secretariat officials will be seated at the Table of the House. Media personnel, 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. 

Telecast

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. 

Rajya Sabha Chairman also directed the secretariat officials to minimize the need for the members to physically handle various papers by ensuring necessary arrangements. 

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