New Delhi, June 22, 2021: Lok Sabha Speaker Shri Om Birla held a virtual meeting of All India Presiding Officers Conference today and discussed the working of state legislatures with their Presiding Officers. On this occasion, he reminded the gathering that on 19 April 2021, he had similarly held an online meeting with Presiding Officers on the topic of role of public representatives during the COVID pandemic.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri Birla said that the Central Government has started free vaccination programmes across the nation for all persons above the age of 18 years, beginning with International Yoga Day on 21st June. He urged the Presiding Officers to sensitize the Members of all the democratic institutions in their states like the Vidhan Sabha, Vidhan Parishad, Panchayat, Municipality etc. to conduct public awareness campaigns about COVID-19 so that citizens can be protected against the pandemic. He also informed the Presiding Officers about the initiatives taken by the coaching institutes in Kota under which free coaching has been arranged for the children who lost their parents during COVID-19. Besides this initiative, he also mentioned about the arrangement of free accommodation for the children of families facing financial difficulties due to the pandemic.
Shri Birla stressed that public representatives should make persistent efforts to clear any misconceptions or confusions that the public may have about the vaccine.
Observing that in the last two years, many new initiatives have been undertaken in the Lok Sabha, Shri Birla said that it has been his endeavor to enable Hon'ble Members to participate in House proceedings more effectively and to improve the quality of discussions in the House. He said that in the first two years of the 17th Lok Sabha, the productivity of the House has been more than 122 percent. He added that changes have been in rules with respect to matters under Rule 377, due to which the Hon'ble Members now get answers to more than 90 percent of matters raised. He expressed happiness that answers to most of the issues raised during Zero Hour have started reaching the Hon'ble Members, due to which the issues relating to their constituencies have received positive results.
Shri Birla observed that conducting parliamentary sessions has been a major challenge during the time of the COVID-19. The fourth and fifth sessions of the 17th Lok Sabha were held amid the pandemic. He was happy to note that with the cooperation and commitment of the Hon’ble Members, the productivity of the House stood at 167 percent and 114 percent in these sessions too. Also, he thanked the Presiding Officers for setting up COVID Control Rooms in their respective Legislatures, which yielded positive results.
Shri Birla expressed satisfaction that a lot of progress has been made in the Parliament towards adopting digital media. Whereas earlier 40 percent of the questions were received through e-notices, now more than 90 percent of the questions are being received through e-notices. He said that it is a matter of satisfaction that Live proceedings in the Legislative Assemblies and Legislative Councils of all the States are now being telecast through social media and other digital means.
Shri Birla also noted that the Research Division of the Parliament has actively worked towards providing relevant information on policy matters and other topics to Members of Parliament in the form of online research, references, legislative and background notes. He further said that the Parliament Library has started home delivery of books for Hon’ble Members. Shri Birla said that emphasis is also being laid on the maintenance and study of historical debates in the Parliament so that their reference can be taken at appropriate times.
Shri Birla also reminded the gathering that the 80th Presiding Officers Conference was organized in Kevadia, Gujarat last year. Similarly, earlier in December, 2019, the 79th conference was held in Dehradun. He said that in the previous conferences certain decisions were taken by the Presiding Officers on various subjects; and Committees were formed for their comprehensive examination. Shri Birla said that once COVID-19 subsides, the reports of these Committees which are being finalised right now would be presented at a three-day Conference which would be organized after August 15 of this year.
31 Presiding Officers of state legislatures participated in this virtual meeting, who discussed several matters, including legislative response to tackle the menace of COVID-19.