For the second consecutive day, air pollution was discussed at length in the Lok Sabha, while electoral bonds were discussed in the Rajya Sabha. The issue of electoral bonds resonated not just inside Parliament but also outside it, as Congress MPs held a protest outside the building holding placards that read "Electoral bonds — the new name of corruption" and "Break your silence, prime minister."
Environment minister Prakash Javadekar gave a detailed statement in the Lok Sabha on air pollution, a day after he spoke on the issue in the Rajya Sabha. Javadekar on Friday said a mass movement is needed to tackle the problem.
Meanwhile, the ongoing protests by students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) also became the subject of heated debate in the Rajya Sabha. The issue has been highlighted in Parliament throughout the week, since the beginning of the Winter Session on Monday.
'Will take less time than Beijing to improve air quality'
Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Javadekar exuded confidence that the country will take less time than the 15 years taken by Beijing to improve air quality in the national capital.
There is a relation between pollution and climate change, the environment minister said, adding that 40 percent of India's total power capacity will come from renewable sources before 2030.
Noting that India's green cover is increasing, the minister said five times more trees have been planted in the national capital in place of trees cut down for construction of the Delhi Metro.
Observing that pollution in Delhi was the topic of discussion in the entire country, he said the "solution of the problem will come only when we recognise the problem."
On measures being taken to control pollution, he said round-the-clock monitoring was taking place. He also said that a ban has been put on use of furnace oil and emission norms have been enhanced.
The government has formed a task force on Delhi's toxic smog and the Prime Minister's Office is monitoring its work every day, Javadekar said. The more trees planted, the more it will help in reducing pollution, he said.
Earlier participating in a debate on pollution, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said there has to be a concerted effort to deal with this problem.
Both state and Central government should work together to deal with the issue of pollution which has become a matter of concern.
"We need a climate-smart economy...You should introduce climate literacy," he said. Chowdhury charged that the Environment and Forest Ministry under the NDA government appears to be pro-business rather than pro-conservation.
'Electoral bonds threat to democracy'
The Opposition asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come clean on the allegations surrounding the electoral bonds scheme and accused the government of legalising corruption.
Opposition parties led by the Congress, which protested in Parliament premises and described the issue as a "threat to democracy", sought to raise the matter in the Rajya Sabha but were not allowed to do by the Chair.
The CPM along with the CPI also hit out at the government over the issue of electoral bonds and said it was "legalised political corruption".
Several senior Congress leaders, including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Anand Sharma, Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari, protested against the government inside Parliament House premises.
Tewari said there should be a discussion in the House. "These electoral bonds are a threat to democracy," he told reporters.
The MPs held placards asking the prime minister to break his silence on the issue, raised slogans against the government and called for ending the electoral bonds scheme.
The issue of electoral bonds has snowballed into a political flashpoint following a report by a news portal that the Reserve Bank of India and the Election Commission had reservations against them, but were overruled by the Modi government.
CPM seeks judicial probe into police action at JNU
Members of Left parties and the BJP clashed in Rajya Sabha over the issue of the JNU students' protest against a hike in hostel fees and a draft hostel manual which imposes dress codes and curfew timings.
Through a Zero Hour mention, KK Ragesh of the CPM raised the matter and sought a judicial probe into police action against agitating students. Immediately after this, Prabhat Jha of the BJP raised the issue of "defacement" of a yet-to-be-unveiled statue of Swami Vivekananda on the JNU campus.
He then went on to raise the issue of alleged anti-India slogans being raised by students of JNU and demanded Central government's oversight of activities in JNU. This was strongly countered by Left members.
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu first cut short Ragesh, who was speaking on the police action on JNU students and after Jha had spoken, said that only submission on the JNU fee hike and defacement of the Vivekananda statue was admitted.
Ragesh said JNU students have been protesting for over one month demanding roll back of the fee hike and restoration of democratic rights on campus. He asked why civil liberties were being "suppressed" after declaring an "undeclared emergency".
JNU students during a march to Parliament were lathicharged by police and student leaders taken to police station and brutally beaten up, he alleged.
Bill to ban e-cigarettes introduced in LS
A bill to ban production, import and sale of electronic cigarettes and similar products was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Friday.
The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Bill, 2019, seeks to replace an ordinance issued on 18 September.
The bill was introduced by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.
The bill makes the manufacturing, production, import, export, distribution, transport, sale, storage or advertisements of such alternative smoking devices a cognisable offence, attracting a jail term and a fine. First-time violators will face a jail term of up to one year and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. For subsequent offences, a jail term of up to three years or a fine of Rs 5 lakh, or both, according to the ordinance.
With inputs from PTI
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
Updated Date: Nov 22, 2019 20:09:29 IST