‘Will gift masks to members who enter without them’: UP Assembly speaker on Covid-19 preparation
The session of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly will begin from August 20. Speaker Hriday Narayan Dikshit talks about the preparation of the state government.Updated: Aug 15, 2020 11:32 IST
The session of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly will begin from August 20, and the legislative department has decided to use lobbies and galleries in order to keep a seat between two members vacant so that social distancing norms can be followed as per Covid-19 guidelines, speaker Hriday Narayan Dikshit said.
Speaking to Hindustan Times’ Umesh Raghuvanshi, Dikshit talked about handling the challenges posed by the coronavirus disease and how these norms will be enforced if members enter the well of the House.
Here are edited excerpts from the interview:
Q: What are the main challenges in holding the monsoon session amid the fight against Covid-19?
HN Dikshit: Covid-19 is posing a big challenge to all. We are facing the challenge in following social distancing norms. A safe distance has to be maintained between members in the House. I have had a meeting with minister for parliamentary affairs Suresh Khanna and officers of the assembly secretariat on the issue.
Q: What about the leaders of the political parties?
HN Dikshit: Yes, we also had a meeting with leaders of major political parties to share our point on the issue with them. We discussed the issue and all of them have agreed to the steps being taken for protection.
Q: What steps?
HN Dikshit: We have decided to keep a seat vacant between two members. We do not have sufficient seats for this in the assembly hall. So, we are making arrangements for the seating of members in the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ lobbies as well. We will also use viewers’ galleries to accommodate the members.
Q: But lobbies/galleries don’t have microphones?
HN Dikshit: We will use cordless microphones for seats where the mikes are not available.
Q: What else?
HN Dikshit: There is also the challenge of using the existing central air-conditioning system. This AC system does not conform to the Union government’s guidelines. We need to close the existing system and have a new system with ultraviolet filters in place. In order to avoid crowding in the assembly complex, we have requested former members not to visit the assembly secretariat during the session. We have also requested the members not to bring any visitors with them.
Q: What if members don’t come with a mask?
HN Dikshit: If any member comes without a mask, we will gift them one.
Q: How long will the session be?
HN Dikshit: We have a three-day agenda for the House. On the first day, the House will mourn the death of its sitting members. On the second day, the state government proposes to table about 12 ordinances promulgated after the last session. The state government will also table bills to replace these ordinances. On the third day too, the state government may table some bills. As of now, we don’t have any information about any proposal to table the supplementary budget for 2020-2021.
Q: Did you consider holding a virtual meeting of the House?
HN Dikshit: We did consider the option of holding a virtual meeting of the House. But this could not be taken forward.
Q: Why? Will this need an amendment to the Constitution?
HN Dikshit: No, I don’t think so. This can be done by making amendment to the rules of procedure of the House.
Q: How will it be ensured that social distancing norms are followed?
HN Dikshit: We have held discussions with leaders of all the political parties. We will have another meeting on August 19. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath will also attend the all-party meeting. We will seek cooperation of all the parties in this meeting again.
Q: How will social distancing be ensured when members enter the well?
HN Dikshit: We are sure all the members will respect social distancing norms. Yes, members do come to the well. They have done so in the past. But we are sure they will not enter the well of the House.
Q: The well of the house does not have sufficient space for social distancing?
HN Dikshit: We are sure, the members will follow the social distancing norms. I will request the members not to enter the well of the house in this situation.