House panel meetings to resume from June 21
After a gap of more than two months, Indian parliamentary committees will resume their meeting from June 21, authorities involved in the planning said on Tuesday.
“The chairpersons of the standing committees have been informed that they can resume panel meetings from June 21,” said a senior MP who heads a panel.
Officials maintained that June 21 was chosen keeping in mind the ongoing lockdown in some states. Authorities expect that by June 21, the remaining restrictions will be lifted amid an improving Covid situation in large parts of the country.
On June 21, the government will also switch to the centralised vaccine programme, in which the Union government will provide free vaccine to the states. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Monday that the states will not have to pay for the vaccines and all adults can receive free vaccines organised by the Centre.
When the second wave of Covid hit India in March, leaving the Capital and large parts of the country reeling, many House committees had to cancel their meetings and no new meeting were planned.
Indian Parliament could work for only 34 days since the pandemic hit Indian shores in March 2020. The entire winter session of 2020 had to be cancelled while last three other sessions were cut short.
The Labour panel, led by Biju Janata Dal member Bhartruhari Mahtab, had planned to meet on April 23 on cotton plantations and scheduled a study tour in April. “We had to cancel both. In my panel, at least 15-16 members are in the NCR [national capital region] or UP and can travel by road to attend any panel meetings. But some of those members were reluctant to come for meetings,” said Mahtab.
The panel will now meet on June 23.
Earlier, a meeting of the agriculture committee was similarly cancelled, officials said. Another meeting of the IT panel, led by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, had to be cancelled. Usually, three to four meetings of various parliamentary committees are scheduled in a week.
Officials said while Covid situation was preventing some lawmakers living in other states to travel to Delhi, many parliamentary officials too, were not attending office and working from home. “So, even if a panel wants to meet, proper arrangement for that meeting might be a challenge,” said a senior official.