Lok Sabha Speaker suggests ideas for parl panels
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, in a rare move, has suggested a host of ideas for parliamentary committees to consider.Updated: May 21, 2020 04:53 IST
The average refilling rate of gas cylinders under the Ujwala Scheme vis-à-vis the normal cylinders, identifying villages along India’s international borders where no government authority has ever visited, the transmission and distribution losses and leakages of electricity in different states, and the renaming of a standing committee—Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, in a rare move, has suggested a host of ideas for parliamentary committees to consider.
During a performance review of 16 department-related standing committees under the Lok Sabha on May 12 and 13, the Speaker also emphasized that the panels should work with an eye on the last people in line and keep them at the centre of their recommendations.
It is unusual for the Lok Sabha Speaker to suggest topics for discussion for panels but experts pointed out that the Speaker or the Rajya Sabah chairman are within their rights to give constructive suggestions for panels to consider. “The Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha chairman constitute the panels under their respective houses, and these panels also work largely under the guidance of the presiding officers” said a senior functionary of the Lok Sabha who asked not to be named.
A second official of the Lok Sabha added on condition of anonymity that these are “not directions of the Speaker but ideas for the panels to consider.”
Indian Parliament has 24 department related standing panels out of which 16 belong to Lok Sabha and the remaining come under the purview of the Upper House.
During the performance review of the panels for the last financial year, Birla also sought a report on the attendance of MPs in panel meetings. According to an official, Birla is also open to shifting MPs with low attendance to other panels to maximize their contribution.
Birla even suggested a discussion between the chairman of the agriculture panel and ministry officials on Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana, a key crop insurance scheme for the farmers. He wanted the Committee on Urban Development to be renamed as panel on Housing and Urban Development in line with the ministry’s name.
For the railways panel, the Speaker suggested looking into the use of land along railway lines to develop horticulture, floriculture and solar power plants, privatization in Railways, and a review of historical hikes in passenger and freight fares. “The committee should also discuss increasing transporting goods through railways, the location of rail corridors, modernisation of rail godowns and use of machines for loading and unloading of goods etc,” Birla suggested at the meeting.
This was the first comprehensive review of the panels in many years, said the two officials, and it is part of efforts to improve the efficiency of Parliamentary panels. The parliamentary committees, established in 1993, are seen as an extension of the house and are responsible for handling matters that can’t be taken up due to time constraints.
Birla, who is envisaging structural reforms in the functioning of Indian Parliament, has also asked for detailed background notes for panels, a compilation of major recommendations of all committees which have had a significant impact on common citizens, and a report on recommendations which have an impact.