The budget session of Parliament will begin on Friday with President Ram Nath Kovind addressing members of both the Houses seated in three different locations for the first time as part of precautions against COVID-19.
A Rajya Sabha press release said that 144 members of Parliament will be seated in the Central Hall including the council of ministers, chairpersons of various committees of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, leaders of different parties and groups in both the Houses, former Prime Ministers and national presidents of BJP and Congress.
The remaining members of Parliament will be seated in the chambers of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as per the COVID-induced physical distancing norms.
The release said that Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has taken COVID test ahead of the session and several members of the upper House have also taken the test.
It said 1,209 officials and staff of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat have also been administered COVID test as part of the preparations for the budget session which is the second to be held under COVID-19 restrictions after the monsoon session last year.
The release said that 715 officials and staff of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, who are not directly connected with the proceedings of the House have been administered antigen tests while 494 associated with the proceedings of the House have been administered RT PCR tests.
“None have tested positive in the antigen tests and results of RT PCR tests are expected today. This is in sharp contrast to 64 officials and staff of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat having tested positive ahead of the Monsoon Session last year,” the release said.
The Rajya Sabha Chairman, who reviewed in detail preparations for the budget session on Wednesday, has given directions that personal staff of ministers, members of Rajya Sabha and officers of the ministries visiting Parliament shall also be tested for coronavirus.
Rajya Sabha will meet at 3 pm on Friday and one hour after the presentation of the general budget on February 1. On the remaining days, the House will meet between 9 am and 2 pm.
The Rajya Sabha Chairman has convened a meeting of leaders of various parties and groups in the House on Sunday. The Business Advisory Committee will meet tomorrow.
The budget session will have 33 sittings and the union budget will be presented for the first time in conditions created by COVID-19.
Rajya Sabha will have both Zero Hour and Question Hour during the session.
Question Hour will begin at 9.30 am. Zero Hour and Question Hour were not taken up during the monsoon session last year as the House met for only four hours per day, the release said.
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