Parliament Live Updates: Around 30 MPs Test Positive For Covid-19, Sources Say
People enter Parliament House in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

Parliament Live Updates: Around 30 MPs Test Positive For Covid-19, Sources Say

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Indian lawmakers returned to the parliament for the first time since the start of the pandemic, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government bracing for a tumultuous monsoon session as the country sets new global records in coronavirus infections amid a border standoff with China.

The worst economic slowdown among major economies is also expected to drive debate, although the question hour—in which lawmakers seek direct replies from ministers—has been suspended in a move that’s only happened in times of war or national emergency, prompting criticism from the opposition.

Countries around the world have been grappling with how to conduct legislative business during the pandemic. In India, this parliament session will be marked by several firsts. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the overhaul of logistics and infrastructure to maintain social distancing among members.

Members are required to get tested for the virus no more than 72 hours before the start of the parliament session, according to a bulletin from the Rajya Sabha. Some senior lawmakers will skip the monsoon session to avoid exposure to infection. The average age of Lok Sabha members is 54 and that of the Rajya Sabha is 63 years.

Live updates and developments from the first day of parliament’s monsoon session:

Around 30 MPs Test Positive For Covid-19: Sources

Around 30 members of parliament and more than 50 employees of the secretariats have tested positive for Covid-19, sources said on Monday.

All parliamentarians and staff of the secretariats of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha had undergone mandatory Covid-19 tests before the start of the monsoon session.

As per the reports of these tests, around 30 MPs and over 50 employees of the secretariats tested positive for coronavirus, the sources said. All those who have tested positive have been asked to stay in quarantine and they did not come to Parliament.

The monsoon session, which began on Monday, is being held in two different shifts—Rajya Sabha will sit in the mornings and Lok Sabha in the second half of the day.

Rs 39,500 Crore Withdrawn From EPF Accounts During Lockdown, Government Says

A total of Rs 39,402.94 crore was withdrawn from provident fund accounts during the coronavirus lockdown, the government said on Monday.

Responding to a question in the Lok Sabha on the quantum of PF withdrawals, Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar gave a state-wise break-up of the withdrawals.

The government, as part of its Atmanirbhar Bharat Covid-19 package, had allowed employees to withdraw from their PF accounts to mitigate economic hardship.

Over One Crore Migrant Workers Returned Home During Lockdown: Govt

Over one crore migrant workers returned to their home states after implementation of the world's strictest coronavirus lockdown, the government said on Monday.

The union labour ministry, however, doesn't have data on how many of them lost their jobs or died on their journey back home.

Responding to questions on the migrant worker crisis in the Lok Sabha, Union Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar gave a state-wise breakup on the exodus from cities.

When asked how many migrant workers walked back home, Gangwal in the written reply said Indian Railways ran 4,611 Shramik Special trains to take back 63.07 lakh migrant workers to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, etc.

"Food and water was also provided free of cost to the workers during their journey,” the labour minister said in the written reply.

Out of the six questions put forth, the labour ministry had data for three.

Lok Sabha Adopts Motion To Do Away With Question Hour

The Lok Sabha on Monday adopted a motion to do away with the Question Hour and private members' business during the monsoon session of the parliament.

Criticising the move, the opposition led by the Congress said that Question Hour is the "golden hour of the House".

Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said the argument and rationale that has been put forth by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi is far from convincing. He said the Question Hour is recognised as essence of parliamentary democracy and executives are accountable and answerable during the Question Hour.

Monsoon Session of Parliament Begins

The monsoon session of the parliament is scheduled to be held between Sept. 14, 2020 and Oct. 1, 2020. There will be a total of 18 sittings. According to PRS Legislative Research, 46 Bills are pending in the parliament—17 are listed for consideration and passing, six for withdrawal, and 23 for introduction, consideration, and passing.

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