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MPs gear up to question Centre on Covid-19, economic crisis, locust attack

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on July 07, 2020 Published on July 07, 2020

Members of are well-prepared as departmental Standing Committees meet from July 7 to 21

Members of departmental Standing Committees of Parliament are gearing up for some tough questioning of the Central Ministries on the Covid-19 lockdown, the migrant crisis and the locusts attack.

On the agenda are demand for discussions on the economic crisis and the problems at China border, in the 10 meetings scheduled between July 7 and July 21 at Parliament, Parliament Annexe and Parliament Library buildings.

The first of these meeting was held on Tuesday by the Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas headed by BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri. Talking to BusinessLine, Bidhuri said 14 members participated and the discussion lasted for about two-and-a-half hours.

On the agenda was briefing by the representatives of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and various oil and gas PSUs on the National Gas Grid and a review of the performance of oil marketing companies. A discussion on the oil prices also took place during the meeting.

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who is a member of the panel, told BusinessLine that the meeting should have been held through video-conferencing.

“I could not attend the meeting. I am a senior citizen and I abide by the national Covid-19 protocol that asks senior citizen to remain home. The committee should have provided online attendance facility, at least for the senior citizens in the panel,” he said.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has scheduled a meeting on July 10. A source in the panel said Chairperson Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had to postpone the meetings at least on four occasions in May and June. The PAC was reconstituted in April and started functioning from May. The first meeting to be held on July 10 is to decide the agenda of the panel for the coming year.

“The Chairperson has already sought our response. We hope that the meeting will take place this time,” a member said. Along with the PAC, the Estimates Committee and the Committee on Public Undertaking were also reconstituted in May. The department-related standing committees have a couple more months left to complete their one-year tenure.

The Rajya Sabha’s committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change, headed by veteran Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, is also meeting on the same day on ‘Preparedness to deal with Covid-19 and other Pandemics in future’.

Labour crisis

Labour Standing Committee Chairman Bhartruhari Mahtab said he is planning to hold a meeting on July 15 to start the discussion on the draft report on the Social Security Code. Mahtab had raised concerns at the crisis of migrant workers and reported job loss and wage loss at various sectors during the lockdown. Such issues are likely to come up in the meeting. The agenda include changes in labour laws initiated during the lockdown and issues relating to migrant labour force during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The agriculture panel will discuss the impact of locust attacks at its meeting on July 21. The committee on Welfare of Other Backward Classes will take up the issue of reservation in admission of OBC candidates in medical colleges on the basis of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test. Congress president Sonia Gandhi had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue recently.

The committee on Information Technology headed by Shashi Tharoor will take oral evidence of the representatives of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on the subject ‘Citizens’ data security and privacy’. The members may discuss the ban on some Chinese applications and concerns over Aarogya Setu app. Committees on Water Resources and Social Justice and Empowerment are also meeting during the time.

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Published on July 07, 2020
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