Amid Covid fears, parties agree to curtail Monsoon session

Reporters, parliamentary staff undergo rapid antigen test on a daily basis

Amid Covid fears, parties agree to curtail Monsoon session

Parliamentarians in Lok Sabha during the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament, amid the coronavirus pandemic, in New Delhi. LSTV/PTI photo

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19

At a special meet chaired by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Saturday, all political parties agreed to curtail the ongoing Monsoon Session next week. The Session could be adjourned as early as September 24 amid COVID fears.

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 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.

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 was slated to end on October 1. Both the Houses 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. — With PTI inputs

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