Both Houses adjourned till April 5


In what has been a very busy session so far, both Houses of Parliament passed many Bills this week – the Finance Bill and the Mental Healthcare Bill to name a few. The week witnessed many stormy discussions in both Houses, many continuing well up to late in the day.

Both Houses are now set for a long weekend break and will reconvene on April 5, 2017.

Here are the live updates:
6: 05 p.m.: Lok Sabha adjourned till 5th April, 2017.

5: 15 p.m.: BJP MP Abhishek Singh speaks.

5 p.m.: Rajya Sabha adjourned till 5th April, 2017.

4: 30 p.m.: Rajya Sabha

Parshottam Rupala, Union Minister of the State – Agriculture, Farmers’ Welfare & Panchayati Raj speaks. Still on the topic of providing financial help to farmers in Bundelkhand. Responding to Digvijaya Singh, he says there were delays to such an extent that projects started in 2002 finally got clearance only in 2016.

4: 15 p.m.: Lok Sabha

Minister of State (IC) for Labour and Employment, Bandaru Dattatreya responds to the discussion on pension scheme. 58 lakh pensioners will be benefited by this action, he says. “We are giving insurance benefit to retired pensioners now under ESIC. We are providing all medical services to retired pensioners,” he says.

3: 40 p.m. Lok Sabha

BJP MP Ajay Misra speaks on the EPF pension scheme. Lok Sabha should ensure the welfare of the employees and pensioners with regards to Provident Fund, he says. Next up is Hukmdev Narayan Yadav from the BJP, who also speaks on the EPF pension scheme.

3: 20 p.m.: Lok Sabha

Sanghamita Mumtaz of the AITC speaks on The Footwear Design and Development Institute Bill, 2017. “Footwear and leather industry plays a vital role in the Indian economy,” she says.

India has an enormous scope in the leather industry. Local consumption is also on the rise. It is very valuable to the economy. There are a lot of women in leather industry in the unorganized sector. Industry has immense scope for women empowerment, she says.

“Why is it only footwear? Can other allied and leather products come under this?” she says.

1 p.m.: Lok Sabha

Devji Patel of the BJP speaks about cancer being caused by gutkha. Uday Pratap Singh of the BJP wants a train from Itarsi to be changed from a passenger train to an express.

K.C. Venugopal brings up the issue of banks charging customers for not maintaining minimum balance. Bhartruhari Mahtab raises the issue of ‘four-laning’ of National Highways in Odisha. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress brings up the issue of jihadi activities in Bangladesh and operatives entering India through neighbouring states.

Aparupa Poddar of the Trinamool Congress raises the issue of upkeep and maintenance of Ajmer Dargah.

Zero Hour comes to a close. House is adjourned till 2.30 p.m.

12.30 p.m.: Lok Sabha

Saugata Roy raises the issue of youth in Kashmir obstructing security forces during encounter with terrorists. “The police chief has also appealed to the youth to not to come close to encounter site as they may get injured. The youth seems to have been misled by some people for their short-term political gains.”

Home Minister Rajnath Singh intervenes. “Pakistan-sponsored terrorism is creating problems in J&K. They are trying to destabilise not only the State but the entire country. Our security forces are responding the way they are expected. The recent trend is that some young men indulge in stone pelting. They are being misguided by the stooges of Pakistan. The security forces will give a befitting response to any attempts.”

BJP Member Hukumdev Narayan Yadav raises the issue of Air India not being first priority, and private airlines being encouraged. “I have raised the issue with the government.”

Shiv Sena MP Rahul Shewale raises issue of “enemy property Jinnah House” in Mumbai. “Lakhs are being spent on its upkeep. It should be demolished and a memorial for freedom fighters should be constructed.”

Nihal Chand says fake email IDs are being created in his name and objectionable photographs circulated using them. He says almost 20% of Members are facing similar problems. “Concrete action is not being taken by the police.”

Udit Raj says only 28% of persons with disabilities have got certificate in Delhi. “It is about 12% in the case of the mentally challenged. I request government to allow issuance of certificates from other centres also.”

Pralhad Joshi is in the Chair.

12.30 p.m.: Rajya Sabha

Smriti Irani answers a question on the reopening of closed and sick jute mills.

The next question is on the monitoring of railway projects by state representatives, asked by Ananda Bhaskar Rapolu of the Congress.

Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh answers a question on the decline in the population of livestock in the country.

Question Hour comes to a close. House is adjourned till 2.30 p.m.

12 noon: Lok Sabha

Papers and reports are laid on the table. Submissions by Members are in progress now.

Zero Hour commences.

Saugata Roy of the Trinamool Congress says the issues of deaths of three civilian protestors in Kashmir during a counter-insurgency operation, and the attack on five Nigerian youth in Greater Noida need to be taken up in the list of business. N.K. Premachandran says the crisis of the cashew industry and the return of land to owners after beach sand miners need to be taken up.

Badaruddoza Khan wants underground water being contaminated by arsenic, and women and child trafficking in West Bengal included. Mullapally Ramachandran wants atrocities against women in Kerala, violence in universities campuses to be added.

Arun Jaitley, the Minister of Finance moves to introduce The Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The Bill is introduced.

Rajeev Shankarrao Sattav of the Congress raises the issue of African nationals being attacked in Greater Noida. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar says the government has conveyed its concerns to Yogi Adityanath and a probe is underway. “On the next working day, Sushma Swaraj will give a statement on this in the House.”

12 noon: Rajya Sabha

Question Hour begins. Chairman Hamid Ansari is in the Chair.

Narendra Kumar Swain of the BJD says that there are no rail lines in tribal areas of Odisha and electrification of lines has not been done. Minister Suresh Prabhu says that the concerns of the Member will be addressed.

BJD MP Sarojini Hembram asks about the electrification of a particular line. Mr. Prabhu says that the State has to contribute 50%, and land acquisition has to be done.

The Minister answers a question on freight loading in the Railways.

Manoj Sinha, the MoS for Communications answers a question on internet connectivity to gram panchayats in West Bengal. Vivek Gupta of the Trinamool Congress asks how the Ministry plans to bridge the gap from the gram panchayats to households.

11.30 a.m.: Lok Sabha

Mr. Sahu asks if how much fund has been given to Chhattisgarh under the National Health Mission. Minister says, “We allocate whatever demand is raised.”

Kulamani Samal also raises the issue of deaths due to rabies. He says, “World over, 49,000 people die. In India, there are about 20,000 deaths.” He raises the issue of monkey menace in Delhi. “What awareness programmes is the government conducting?” Mr. Nadda says, “The number of deaths in India, as per government data, is very low.”

Md. Salim says it is a matter of under-reporting. “40 to 50% deaths, as per government data, have happened in West Bengal. There should be an adequate supply of vaccines. Will the Centre take up the responsibility, if States are not taking action?” The Health Minister says, “We can give financial support. The State has to procure vaccines. We can monitor it to fill the gaps.”

Answering a question on adoption, the Minister says that India does have a lengthy adoption process. “There are several nodal agencies and NGOs on whose recommendations we prepare the yardsticks.”

Baijayant Panda asks whether the government would consider streamlining the laws for adoption of differently-abled children and give incentives to adoptive parents. Mr. Nadda says that 50% of such children are adopted from outside (the country). “The parents who adopt them are told about the disabilities. For first two years, we seek four reports on the child’s condition. In foreign countries, we seek six reports.”

Virender Kashyap says that in several cantonment board areas, farmers and others were given land. “Now notices are being issued to vacate. What is being done about this?” Mos Defence Subhash Bhamre says the matter is sub-judice.

Answering a question raised by Heena Gavit of the BJP, the Health Minister, on malnutrition issues, says there is no consideration for the national nutrition mission. “But there should be better coordination among various agencies.”

K. Geetha of the YSR Congress asks a question on malnutrition and anaemia. “Is the government planning any programme for children in the rural areas?” Mr. Nadda says the State government should enforce the programmes. “We give them iron and folic acid right from birth.”

Question Hour comes to a close.

11.30 a.m.: Rajya Sabha

Md. Nadimul Haque of the Trinamool Congress raises the issue of meat shops being shut down in Uttar Pradesh. “This arbitrary clampdown is an assault on butchers’ right to earn a living.” Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi says it is a question of legal and illegal businesses. “Those who are running legal slaughterhouses have not been touched.”

Ritabrata Banerjee raises the issue of safety of whistleblowers and their families. He cites a recent event from Kerala when a whistleblower felt threatened as he was a prime witness in a sting operation.

Tapan Sen of the CPI(M) brings up the non-appointment of Lokpal. “Now Lokpal is not being appointed. It is being delayed. In many states, Lokayuktas are also not being appointed. How does the government plan to eliminate corruption, which is their flagship programme?” He says the lack of LoP in Lok Sabha is being cited as the reason for not appointing Lokpal. “Can this not be changed? Is it not a due priority for the government?” Mr. Naqvi says the matter is sub-judice.

Manohar Parrikar enters the House. Opposition Members shout slogans. He rises to speak, but is drowned out by shouts. Members troop to the Well of the House. Mr. Parrikar invites Opposition Members to Goa.

Zero Hour comes to a close.

11 a.m.: Lok Sabha

House reconvenes. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan is in the Chair.

Question Hour begins. The first question is on new initiatives in the health sector, asked by Satya Pal Singh.

Hema Malini of the BJP asks a question on neurogenetic test facilities. She asks if the tests can be made mandatory at early stages of pregnancy. Health Minister J.P. Nadda says test facilities are available at AIIMS and NIMHANS, and over 500 tests have been done.

A. Sampath of the CPI(M) asks about the steps taken for the mental health of patients. “When patients undergo surgery, it causes severe mental pain too. Before surgery there is fear psychosis. Depression also happens. Is the government planning to appoint a sufficient number of clinical psychologists?” Minister says the new health policy has a patient-centric approach.

N.K. Premachandran of the RSP says, “Poverty is closely linked to non-communicable diseases. 2.7 million die of non communicable diseases, and 1.4 lakh of communicable diseases every year. Most communicable diseases like malaria are coming back. 6 to 7% of GDP is spent in developed countries. In India, it is only 1.7%.”

Minister says that 2.5% of the GDP is the target till 2025. “It is a gradual process. It is based on how much we are able to spend. There is no lack of funds, but capacity of States to spend has to increase. States are also to add to the budget on health.”

K.C. Venugopal of the Congress says that the remuneration for ASHA workers is very low. Mr. Nadda responds that ASHA workers doing a very good job. “Our indicators are certainly improving. We are concerned about the remuneration too, and we have asked the States to supplement.”

Sirajuddin Ajmal of the AIUDF asks if the government plans to do periodic assessment of health centres. “Does it plan to set up more primary centres? We have got a 325-bed hospital in Assam, we can collaborate with government to run health centres.” Minister says, “Management of Centres is with States. National quality assurance programme is at the Centre-level to audit the centres, give report to States for necessary monetary or legal support.”

RJD MP Shailesh Kumar asks if a plot has been identified for the second AIIMS in Bihar. Mr. Nadda says the State government has not yet alloted the land.

A.P. Jithender Reddy of the TRS asks if the government will sanction funds for AIIMS in Telangana this year. “ASHA workers are doing good work in villages. Their allowances need to be enhanced.” Mr. Nadda says that the funds for AIIMS are under active consideration.

Chhedi Paswan of the BJP says the Patna AIIMS, though set up, is not functioning. “There is no building, no emergency ward, and no recruitment is being done.” Minister says that there were some legal issues in recruitment. “They have been resolved, and by December the process will be over. Interviews are being conducted.”

Tamradhwaj Sahu raises the issue of deaths due to rabies. “15,000 to 20,000 people die due to rabies every year as per an estimate.”

11 a.m.: Rajya Sabha

House reconvenes. Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien is in the Chair. It is his birthday, and the House wishes him.

“So I believe there will be perfect order in the House today,” he says to much laughter. Papers are laid on the table.

Chair declares that Monday is a holiday, as Tuesday is Rama Navami.

Digvijaya Singh asks again about his substantive motion on government formation in Goa and Manipur.

Derek O’Brien raises a point of order under rule 29 on the list of business. “Give us assurance that government business will not be taken up today.”

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad says, “In the Business Advisory Committee, it was decided that political parties would sit and discuss Enemy Property Bill. But it was passed in violation of it.” He says no Bill should be passed on a Friday. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi says that they hold their MPs there. “It is up to the Opposition to keep their Members in the House.”

Mr. Kurien says that the Chair is duty bound to take up next business if Private Member Bills collapse before 5 p.m. on a Friday. “What can the Chair do if some Members are absent on a Friday afternoon?”

Zero Hour begins.

10.45 a.m.: The Lok Sabha on Thursday took up amendments suggested by the Rajya Sabha on the Finance Bill, 2017 and rejected all of them, thus ensuring that it passed the Parliament in its original form.

Here is the listed business for today.

Rajya Sabha

– Bills for consideration and passing
> The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016

– Discussions
> Discussion on the working of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
> Discussion on the working of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises
> Discussion on the working of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

– Private Members’ business (Resolutions)
> Vishambhar Prasad Nishad: Resolution on Bundelkhand farmers’ plight
> Sanjay Seth: Resolution on the Right to Housing
> Bhupender Yadav: Resolution on simultaneous Assembly and General elections
> Vijaysai Reddy: Resolution on anti-defection
> P.L. Punia: Resolution on Dalit scholars’ suicides

Lok Sabha

– Bill to be introduced
> The Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2017

– Bills for consideration and passing
> The Footwear Design and Development Institute Bill, 2017
> The Repealing and Amending Bill, 2017
> The Indian Institutes of Management Bill, 2017

– Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals

– Private Members’ business (Resolutions)
> N.K. Premachandran: Steps to ensure welfare of Employees Provident Fund pensioners
> Baijayant Panda: Steps to facilitate freedom of speech and expression of jawans
> Mullapally Ramachandran: Creation of a new Union Ministry for sustainable development of coastal regions
> Jyotiraditya Scindia: Eradication of malnutrition amongst children in the country
> Om Birla: Electoral reforms regarding synchronization of the term of Legislative Assemblies and the House of the People

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