New Delhi, Aug 31 (PTI) Ahead of the Monsoon Session of Parliament, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday held extensive discussions with the ICMR director general and Union secretaries of Home, Health and Defence Research on ensuring health safety of MPs.
Naidu raised several issues and sought clarifications on health safety and hassle-free travel of members of Rajya Sabha.
Regarding quarantine requirements in different states on return of members after attending the session, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla assured the chairman that the matter will be taken up with states/UTs, officials said.
The Monsoon Session is slated to start from September 14 and is likely to continue till October 1.
After detailed discussions, Naidu noted that all members of Parliament should get tested for COVID-19 without fail in their own interest and that of fellow members as well, according to a statement.
All employees of the Secretariat, including security personnel and media persons covering the proceedings of the House, should also get tested, he said, adding that this applies to personal staff of ministers as well.
The ICMR will make necessary arrangements for testing of all, as required, the statement said.
The home secretary suggested that MPs should get tested within 72 hours of the commencement of the Session and those coming from different parts of the country wait for the results before undertaking travel.
Those getting positive results on arrival in Delhi should quarantine themselves and those testing positive during the session should not attend the House.
Responding to the query of the chairman on the consequences of members wearing masks for the full duration of the session each day, ICMR DG Balaram Bhargava said that wearing masks continuously for 12 hours is absolutely safe.
He further suggested that members of Parliament should speak while wearing masks to minimise the spread of virus.
Bhargava said though the seating arrangement in Rajya Sabha chamber and galleries has been made complying with physical distancing norm, members should speak while sitting to avoid dispersal of aerosols.
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan suggested that movement of MPs in the chambers of both the Houses should be made unidirectional to avoid face to face interactions, according to the statement.
He informed that the Ministry of Health will make available short video clips to all the MPs on awareness about COVID, wearing masks, etc.
The Rajya Sabha chairman directed the secretariat officials to ensure only minimum movement of people in the Parliament House premises, the statement said.
He also suggested that entry into the Central Hall of Parliament should be limited to members of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha and that too, only when the respective House is in session.
Secretary, Defence Research and DRDO Chairman Satish Reddy gave a detailed account of the sanitisation services. These include provision of ultraviolet boxes to sanitise various parliamentary papers to be handled by the chairman and the members.
Sanitisation of footwear and even the cars to be used by the members and those provided by the Secretariat will also be sanitised by providing mats of required dimensions soaked in Hypochlorite gel placed in troughs, the statement said.
The DRDO will also provide multi-utility COVID kits to all MPs, the statement said.
Each kit will contain disposable three-ply masks (40), N-95 masks without wall (5), 20 bottles of sanitisers of 50 ml each, face shields made of polypropylene (not for use in the chamber of the House), gloves (40), touch-free hook (to open and close doors without touching them), sea buckthorn tea bags which enhance immunity and herbal sanitation wipes (variant of tissue papers), it said.
Marshals standing on both sides of the chairman have been advised to wear both masks and face shields, the statement added. PTI SKC SNE SNE