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Par panel on Science and Technology meets for first time since lockdown

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New Delhi:  The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Climate Change on Friday met for the first time since the lockdown due to COVID-19 was enforced on March 25, with Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu expressing happiness over the development.

The panel headed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh held its first meeting since Parliament was adjourned on March 23, ahead of its scheduled time.

Naidu said the delay in the resumption of parliamentary committee meetings was forced by circumstances beyond control.

“I am glad that Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees have resumed functioning, three and half months since the last sitting of Parliament on March 23rd,” he wrote on Twitter.

The Rajya Sabha chairman said everyone was keen on resumption of work by these committees, “but the delay was forced by circumstances beyond our control”.

“Corona pandemic did cast a shadow on the working of these committees, which function on behalf of the Parliament,” the vice president said.

Naidu said all possible measures were taken to enable the committee meetings by complying with the norms of social distancing, wearing of masks etc.

“I am hopeful these committees would now go about examining important issues concerning respective domains,” he said.

Urging Naidu for the holding of virtual meetings, Ramesh, in a tweet, said, “I would still request you Sir to allow virtual meetings given that Parliament is unlikely to meet for the next month at least.”

During the meeting of the Standing Committee on Science and Technology, the members held a detailed discussion over the government’s preparedness and handling of COVID-19.

While six members attended the meeting, presentations were given by the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), besides the principal scientific adviser to the government, on the Centre’s COVID-19 preparedness, sources said.

They said the members present at the meet also sought virtual deliberations.

“Our Parliamentary Standing Committee is having a most informative and useful meeting with @DBTIndia @IndiaDST @CSIR_IND & @PrinSciAdvGoI on the issue of Science & Technology & COVID-19. Too bad we are not allowed to have virtual meetings so that more MPs could have participated,” Ramesh wrote on Twitter.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs is scheduled to meet on July 15.

While the members of the panels are demanding virtual meetings, the presiding officers of both Houses of Parliament have said this requires a change of rules and endorsement by the Rules Committee of Parliament as also a nod from Parliament.