The upcoming Monsoon session of Parliament is likely to see several first-time measures in the view of COVID-19 pandemic, such as large screens, audio consoles for participation from galleries, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, and special cables connecting the two Houses for transmission of audio-visual signal. The Monsoon session is likely to begin in the last week of August or early September.
As per reports, Rajya Sabha Secretariat has been working overtime for the past two weeks to ensure that the arrangements are in line with the direction of Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu. The RS Chairman has asked officials to complete preparations for the session by the third week of August, when testing, rehearsal and final inspection would be carried out.
To comply with the direction, work is progressing at a fast pace to complete several additional installations in prescribed time, like four large display screens in the chamber of the Upper House, another six small screens in its four galleries, audio consoles in the galleries, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation to kill coronavirus, special cables connecting the two Houses for transmission of audio-visual signals, polycarbonate sheets separating the official gallery from the chamber of the House, etc.
All the new arrangements are being done in compliance with the social distancing norms under the coronavirus pandemic-induced restrictions.
This is the first time in the history of Indian Parliament since 1952 that such an arrangement will be in place, where 60 Rajya Sabha members will be seated in the chamber and 51 in the galleries of the House. The remaining 132 members will be seated in the Lok Sabha chamber.
Seats will be allotted to various parties 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 others.
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 HD Deve Gowda, besides union ministers and Rajya Sabha members will also have seats reserved for them 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.
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 conform with social distancing norms, each accommodating 15 persons only.
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.
With PTI inputs