The Centre on Thursday referred the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019, to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha. The Bill provides for a ban on commercial surrogacy, and was passed by the Lok Sabha in the monsoon session.
Both the Houses discussed air pollution in Delhi, where air quality has plummeted to hazardous levels in recent weeks. Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vijay Goel alleged that the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party was inactive in the matter. The AAP, however, claimed pollution levels in the national Capital had reduced in the past few days because of its efforts.
Earlier in the day, protests also broke out in both the Houses of Parliament today over electoral bonds and privatisation of public sector units. The Opposition party had described electoral bonds as a “political bribery scheme”.
Here are updates from the day:
5.48 pm: Lok Sabha continues to discuss air pollution.
5.47 pm: NCP legislator Vandana Chavan says transgender certificates are a violation of the rights of the community as others do not have to announce their identities, reports The Hindu.
5.45 pm: Rajya Sabha discusses the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019.
5.42 pm: BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi claims no one had expected India to achieve the open defecation-free status, but it was done. “Air pollution shall also be solved the same way,” she tells the Lok Sabha.
5.39 pm: Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan points out the low attendance of legislators in the House that is discussing air pollution. She says this reflects the lack of seriousness for the matter. “Farmers alone are not responsible for air pollution,” Bachchan says, according to The Hindu. “India needs to declare an environmental emergency.”
5.36 pm: The Upper House refers the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 to a Select Committee, reports The Indian Express
5.35 pm: Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman asks BJP MP Vijay Goel not to show pictures of mineral water bottles, air purifiers, masks, and advertisements from the Delhi government as the House debates on air pollution, reports ANI.
5.31 pm: Javadekar highlights difference in the air quality of southern states and those in the Indo-Gangetic belt, reports The Hindu. “The specific geophysical nature of every city needs to be acknwoledged in such cases,” the minister says.
5.29 pm: Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar says the country’s green cover has increased in the last five years, reports The Indian Express. “I thank all the states which have taken a step towards planting trees,” he says in the Rajya Sabha. “India’s green cover has increased by 13,000 square km in the last five years.”
5.18 pm: In Rajya Sabha, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad asks Prime Minister Narendra Modi to call a meeting of MPs, chief ministers, and lieutenant governors from across the country. “If we compete and oppose each other, this issue [of air pollution] will go on,” he says. “We should come together and work against this.”
5.16 pm: Sitting Lok Sabha MP Farooq Abdullah, who has been in detention since the Centre scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, is now part of a 21-member Parliamentary Consultative Committee of the defence ministry, reports PTI.
5.12 pm: Congress leader Shashi Tharoor says the ‘Delhi-Punjab debate’ misses the larger point on air pollution. “Our GDP [Gross Domestic Product] would be higher if we dealt with the issue of our air pollution,” he says, according to The Indian Express.
Air pollution during the winter months in the Delhi-NCR region is attributed to stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana along with vehicular pollution and construction work in the national Capital. This has triggered a blame game between the states in the past.
5.03 pm: BJP MP Hema Malini calls for a “monkey safari” in Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura city to protect the animals. “Also,there should be fruit bearing trees in forests,” she tells ANI outside the Parliament. “Monkeys have picked up food habits of humans which is not healthy for them. They do not want fruits now, but samosa and fruity.”
3.27 pm: Lok Sabha is also discussing air pollution in the national Capital, reports India Today.
3.20 pm: Nationalist Congress Party MP Vandana Chavan says pollution should concern every member irrespective of which party they belong, News18 reports. “Air pollution kills a child every 3 minutes in India,” she adds. “India is home to 14 most polluted cities. We cannot be complacent by saying we are doing enough. We need to do a lot more. We need to make sure committees of experts are formed. Every city needs to do a carbon inventory – that identifies from which sources the pollutants come.”
3.15 pm: Congress leader Pratap Singh Bajwa says that even though Javadekar’s report said that ground situation is better, global reports on the contrary highlight that Delhi is the most polluted city in the world.
2.55 pm: Sanjay Singh criticises BJP MP Vijay Goel for not following the odd-even scheme when it was implemented. “It is shameful that while we are trying to make student stop using crackers you are trying to influence the public to do otherwise,” he says.
2.52 pm: Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh says it is because of Delhi government’s effort that pollution has been curbed. “Our 56,000 machines have been given to the farmers to avoid stubble burning,” he tells Rajya Sabha. “But, in the Supreme Court they have quoted a different number. Where did all these machines go,” he asks.
2.50 pm: Kumar says capitalism should be made ecologically sustainable. “Embassies and MNCs are talking about shifting their headquarters from the city now,” he says.
2.45 pm: Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Manoj Kumar says everyone is responsible for the pollution problem, News18 reports. “The problem is that in terms of air pollution, we don’t doubt the measures taken,” he adds. “But in spite of this, nothing is happening.”
2.40 pm: BJP MP Vijay Goel says Delhi government has been inactive to deal with pollution. “In the five years, Delhi government has given a mask,” he says. “50 lakh masks have been distributed but no one is seen wearing it. There is so many pollutants in the water, that we are being forced to drink it from the bottles.”
2.37 pm: She says farmers resort to stubble burning as they don’t have access to the technology, News18 reports. “We hold farmers culpable of stubble burning and they are criminalised,” she says. “In our country most of the farmers are debt-ridden. Where will they go.”
2.26 pm: Selja refers to reports about pollution and says there is a crisis, News18 reports. “We asked why there are no monitoring station is Haryana, but we didn’t receive a convincing answer,” she adds.
2.25 pm: Rajya Sabha MP and Congress leader Kumari Selja says Javadekar’s statement intends to show all is well, but it is not the case, News18 reports.
2.21 pm: He says stubble burning in Haryana and Punjab has reduced, News18 reports. “We have allocated a total of Rs 280 crore for awareness programs....We are now migrating to Bharat Stage-VI which will reduce vehicular pollution by 80%,” he adds.
2.16 pm: Javadekar says a comprehensive air plan has been developed for the Delhi-NCR region, ANI reports.
2.13 pm: Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar says the air quality in Delhi has improved, News18 reports. “To control air pollution in Delhi...several initiatives have been taken and high level task force is made,” he says. “The major source of air pollution are industry, construction, vehicles, biomass, construction/demolition.”
2.11 pm: A debate on air pollution is underway in Rajya Sabha, News18 reports.
1.08 pm: Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu says the House will discuss air pollution once it reconvenes, reports ANI.
1.06 pm: Rajya Sabha adjourns till 2 pm as Question Hour ends, reports The Indian Express.
1.04 pm: Congress members walk out of proceedings in Lok Sabha, according to PTI.
1.01 pm: Congress MP Manish Tewari says the electoral bonds scheme has made corruption official, reports PTI.
12.50 pm: Jaishankar is replying to nominated member Sougata Dasgupta’s questions on government’s position regarding work visas to the US.
12.46 pm: In Rajya Sabha, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar says Indians account for 93% of total number of H4 visas to the US. He adds that the programme to allow spouses of H-1B visa holders was introduced in 2015. “There is a court order to the effect to continue the programme,” he adds. “[The Donald] Trump administration has indicated that it may review it sometime.”
12.30 pm: Congress MP Manish Tewari says the electoral bonds scheme is a “matter of public importance.” “I want to draw the attention of the House towards electoral bonds,” he says, according to ANI. “The electoral bond scheme was limited to elections. RTI in 2018 revealed that government overruled Reserve Bank of India on electoral bonds.”
12.13 pm: In Lok Sabha, the Congress MPs stage protests against privatisation of a few PSUs, including Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, and issuance of electoral bonds. Speaker Om Birla then assures them that they will be allowed to raise the matters during the Zero Hour, reports PTI.
11.32 am: Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Choudhary says the matter of electoral bonds needs urgent attention. “We don’t do this to disrespect you,” he tells the Speaker. “Electoral bonds is a scam.”
11.30 am: Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla displays a copy of rules and Parliamentary etiquettes to Opposition MPs protesting in the Well of the House. “It is our responsibility to maintain the dignity of the house,” he says. “You are veteran MPs and I am new here so I request you again to not disrupt the proceedings by storming into the well.”
11.21 am: Rajya Sabha adjourns till noon amid protests by Opposition members over various matters, reports The Indian Express.
10.38 am: Communist Party of India gives suspension of business notice in Rajya Sabha under Rule 267 over the disinvestment of government stake in five public sector firms including Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited.
10.34 am: The Congress issues adjournment motion notice in Lok Sabha citing the “lack of transparency in the entire scheme of electoral bonds”. Congress MP Manish Tewari is likely to speak on the matter, reports ANI.
10.33 am: Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury calls for a discussion on matters related to the National Register of Citizens. “I think the government and the ruling party are hell-bent on dividing the society along communal lines,” he says, according to ANI.
Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress has given a notice for adjournment over the claims that NRC would be implemented all over the country.
10.32 am: Ahead of today’s session in Rajya Sabha, several zero-hour notices have been given. Nationalist Congress Party MP Vandana Chavan is likely to bring up the matter of fee hike in Jawaharlal Nehru University that has triggered widespread protest, reports News18.
10.30 am: The Rajya Sabha will discuss the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill for the third consecutive day, reports The Indian Express. The Bill, which seeks to ban commercial surrogacy, was passed by the Lok Sabha in the Monsoon session and was taken up for discussion in the Upper House on Tuesday. On Monday, the discussion was deferred after Opposition MPs raised objections to some of its provisions.