Outlook India, April 20, 2020
The Parliament Secretariat on Monday resumed its work with 33 per cent staff, adhering to the Centre”s lockdown guidelines specifically focusing on social distancing and use of masks.
The staff of the secretariat of both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha returned to work on the 27th day of lockdown imposed nationwide to break the chain of transmission of the coronavirus pandemic. The Parliament Secretariat was closed on March 24 — the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced nationwide lockdown — in the wake of COVID-19. The functioning of the Parliament Secretariat was closed till March 31 as per the orders issued by its administrative branch.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla arrived at the Parliament House upon resumption of the functioning of Lok Sabha Secretariat as well as other central government offices in line with Home Ministry”s guideline to allow additional activities by April 20 alongside the nationwide lockdown put in place till May 3 to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Speaking on the occasion, Birla said that India has been reasonably successful in its efforts to contain the spread of this virus and that with the cooperation of the people the nation shall be able to defeat this disease. He said that the Lok Sabha Secretariat is in touch with all Members of Parliament, who in turn are leading efforts within their constituencies to spread awareness about the disease and to ensure that people are taking all the requisite precautions related to social distancing.
The officers and members of staff of the secretariat also resumed their respective official duties and extensive social distancing protocols were put in place within the Parliament House Estate (PHE). “Wearing of masks has been made mandatory for all persons entering PHE premises. All vehicles entering the PHE premises are being sanitized, along with thermal scanning of all persons who enter the PHE,” a statement said.
Wide-ranging sanitisation of all surfaces, both indoors and outdoors along with social distancing norms with regard to meetings and other interactions are also being followed. “All officials have also been given masks and sanitizers and a roster system for lower level officials has also been introduced.” Rajya Sabha Secretary General Desh Deepak Verma, on the first day of resumption of work, firmed up the agenda of work for the lockdown period through video conferencing with 17 senior officials of the rank of Joint Secretary and above.
The issues discussed and to be acted upon as preparatory work include, oath taking by newly elected members of Rajya Sabha, planning an orientation programme for such members including preparation of 10 updated booklets in this regard for use of members.
Payment of salaries to members and employees of the secretariat, attending all other issues relating to members, preparation of a plan of action for reducing expenditure, finalizing retirement benefits for those superannuating, firming up action plans further to decisions taken earlier regarding major issues and transport deployment for picking up officials and staff staying far from office were also discussed.
He asked senior officials to make maximum use of e-office in view of rational deployment of manpower.
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