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Parliament’s Monsoon Session ends, government dubs it a ‘success’

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New Delhi, Aug 11: Parliament’s nearly month-long Monsoon Session ended on Friday, with the two houses recording a dip in productivity compared with the last session.

The session began on July 17, the day voting to elect the 14th President of India was held. During the session, voting to elect the 13th Vice President was also held on August 8.

During the session, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also saw itself becoming the single largest party in the Rajya Sabha after a fresh round of elections to the upper house.

Unlike previous sessions, the upper house recorded a higher productivity compared with the lower house, where the BJP along with its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners, enjoys a majority.

According to the data provided by the secretariats of the two houses, the Lok Sabha’s productivity was 77.94 per cent, significantly down from 114 per cent during the Budget Session.

The Rajya Sabha’s productivity was marginally higher compared with the lower house at 79.95 per cent. In the Budget Session, the upper house clocked around 93 per cent productivity.

Productivity is the ratio between the scheduled number of hours and the number of hours the house actually worked.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said that the government was happy with the session’s outcome.

“It has been a successful session in terms of legislative business conducted and wide participation of all political parties in discussions on various issues of national importance,” Kumar said at the press conference he addressed with Ministers of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and S.S. Ahluwalia.

Ahluwalia said the dip in productivity in percentage terms did not affect legislative business done by the two houses, as the Lok Sabha passed 14 bills and the Rajya Sabha nine bills.

“This session was short. In between, there were holidays, there was the Presidential election, obituary references, and there was also a day dedicated to discussion on the Quit India movement. There were disruptions, even though we were ready to discuss what they wanted…” the Minister said, adding that these factors led to low productivity ratio.

“There was no affect on the legislative business, as both houses passed several bills,” he said.

During the Monsoon Session, the opposition protested over several issues, including the agrarian crisis, withdrawal of cooking gas subsidy, and stalking of a young woman by the son of a Haryana BJP leader.

Two major issues that saw opposition protests were mob lynchings and cow vigilantes, with members blaming the government of inaction. Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections also led to much heat as the opposition Congress alleged use of money and muscle power to influence its MLAs.

Ananth Kumar said though time was lost to disruptions, members compensated by sitting extra hours.

The Lok Sabha lost nearly 30 hours to disruptions but sat for more than 10 hours extra. The Rajya Sabha lost around 25 hours, but members sat for seven hours extra.

The bills passed during the session include The Integrated Goods and Services Tax (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Bill, The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, The Right of Children Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, and The Right of Children Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill.

Ananth Kumar called the passage of The Integrated Goods and Services Tax (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Bill “historic”.

Supplementary Demands for Grants for 2017-18, including Railways, and Demands for Excess Grants for 2014-15 and related Appropriation Bills were discussed and passed by the Lok Sabha.

These Bills were sent to the Rajya Sabha on August 2, but could not be taken up for consideration but were not returned to the Lok Sabha. As per the rules, the bills will deemed to have been passed by both houses on August 15, the end of 14-day period for returning a Finance Bill to the lower house.

The session also saw External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj speak on the stand-off with China along the country’s border in Sikkim, as the upper house took up a discussion on India’s foreign policy.

(IANS)

India

Media bodies seek action against J&K MLA for threatening press

The Indian Women’s Press Corps, Press Club of India, Press Association and the Federation of Press Clubs of India said in a statement that Singh, a former J&K Minister, had warned journalists at a press conference in Jammu to “draw a line”.

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Choudhary Lal Singh

New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) Media organisations on Sunday demanded strict action against Jammu and Kashmir BJP MLA Choudhary Lal Singh over his “threatening and intimidating” remarks directed at journalists in the Valley.

The Indian Women’s Press Corps, Press Club of India, Press Association and the Federation of Press Clubs of India said in a statement that Singh, a former J&K Minister, had warned journalists at a press conference in Jammu to “draw a line”.

He openly threatened them with consequences and warned them of a fate similar to that of Shujaat Bukhari, the Editor of Rising Kashmir who was shot dead less than a fortnight ago, the statement said.

Bukhari’s assassination was condemned by people in general, besides a number of journalist organisations.

Condemning his remarks, the statement said that Singh also blamed Kashmir journalists for creating a “wrong atmosphere” and told them to control themselves.

Singh resigned from the state cabinet in April following his participation in a rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch in January in support of those accused of rape and murder of a young girl in Kathua.

“We demand that strict action be taken against the lawmaker for making threatening remarks hinting possible violence at journalists in the Valley,” the statement said.

It said that such remarks were nothing short of criminal intimidation and a direct attack on the freedom of the press.

“They also serve to vitiate atmosphere and endanger the lives of journalists who work and live precariously in conflict situations,” the statement read.

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NBCC clarifies over Felling of trees for south Delhi’s Housing Project

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New Delhi, June 24: A day after the residents of south Delhi protested carried out a candle light march  in order to protest cutting of more than 16,000 trees under the south Delhi redevelopment project, National Buildings and Construction Construction (NBCC)  chairperson AK Mittal said that replanting and replacement of trees is being done.

“We’ve permission to cut 1400 trees in Nauroji Nagar&2200 in Netaji Nagar. Nothing finalised in Sarojini Nagar yet.That’s only 3600 trees, not 16,000. No. of trees in rest 4 colonies which will be developed by CPWD is also less.Replanting&replacement of trees is going on,”Mittal said.

In September last year, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had asked the National Buildings and Construction Construction (NBCC) Limited to complete compensatory plantation before they start felling trees for the redevelopment of Sarojini Nagar, Nauroji Nagar and Netaji Nagar areas.

 

The centre while responding to reports saying that nearly 17,000 trees are to be cut in Nauroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Sarojini Nagar, Mohammadpur, Sriniwaspuri, Kasturba Nagar and Thyagaraj Nagar as part of the redevelopment project, said that “14,031 trees are to be cut out of the existing 21,040 trees”.

 

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, in a statement, added that “the compensatory plantation of trees will be done in the ratio of 1:10, which will enhance the green area”.

 

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15 killed as tractor falls in Telangana canal

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Hyderabad, June 24 : Fifteen agriculture workers were killed and 15 others injured when a tractor plunged into a canal in Telangana’s Yadadri district on Sunday, police said.

The incident occurred when the tractor carrying the workers fell in Musi canal near Veligonda. The dead include 14 women and a boy.

According to the police, the tractor driver lost control of the vehicle while trying to avoid a motorcycle coming from the opposite direction.

The injured were shifted to nearby hospitals. The death toll may rise as the condition of some of the injured is stated to be critical.

The agriculture workers were on their way to nearby fields for sowing when the incident took place. Police personnel and revenue workers with the help of locals retrieved the bodies from the canal.

State Energy Minister Jagdish Reddy visited the accident site. He told reporters that a probe would be conducted into the incident. He assured all help to the families of the deceased and to the injured.

Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has expressed shock over the incident. He conveyed his condolences to the families of the deceased and directed officials to provide best medical care to the injured.(IANS)

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