December 19, 2021

The Week in Parliament

CPI(M) Parliamentary Office

AS part of the discussion on climate change in the Lok Sabha this week, CPI(M) MP from Tamil Nadu, P R Natarajan asked, “Europe and North America got jolted out of their slumber on climate change impacts. When will the Modi government wake up?” He said that the union government has taken absolutely no measures to build resilience to climate change impacts in the country while making odd gestures to satisfy international interlocutors at climate summits regarding emission reductions. “Our government neither cares about global efforts to control rising temperatures nor about the disastrous impacts already being experienced in India,” he said. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, highlighted reducing emissions intensity, increasing electricity generation capacity from renewable energy sources to 50 per cent, installing at least 500 gigawatts of solar and other renewable power generation by 2030 and so on. However, said Natarajan,  the government officials afterwards stated that these were not promises, but were conditional upon India receiving                 1 trillion dollars from developed countries and that India's Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) would reflect the same. “This at a time when developed countries said their earlier promise of giving 100 billion dollars per year to developing countries is postponed by three years. So the question is, did India make a promise or not? Will the promises made in his speech at COP26 be reflected in India's NDC or not? Why was there so much policy confusion in India's official position in Glasgow? Why did India make such a mess at COP26?” he asked. 

Natarajan also questioned the government's inaction on the impacts of climate change in India. “What is the government doing about tackling these climate impacts, and their impacts on infrastructure and on people's lives and livelihoods?” he asked. He highlighted the climate change impact on the lives and livelihood of people living in the Indo-Gangetic basin affected by unseasonal and heavy rains, the resulting severe urban flooding every year in Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi-NCR resulting in thousands of crores of damage annually.  He also highlighted the coastal erosion which is already severely impacting Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. “The states are currently being left to their own devices and are unable to meet these multiple challenges on their own since they are already starved of funds because of the flawed distribution of resources between centre and states,” he said.      

Natarajan urged the government to urgently convene a suitable body involving states, experts, and other stakeholders such as trade unions and farmers organisations to formulate and guide a set of policies and programmes, as well as implement mechanisms in the true spirit of cooperative federalism to urgently tackle climate change impacts in India.

A M Ariff, CPI(M) MP from Kerala, opposed the Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2021, and the Delhi Special Police (Amendment) Bill, 2021. “These two bills are against the concept of central vigilance, the principle of Lokayukta, and various Supreme Court judgments,” he said. He also pointed out that in the last seven years, after coming to power in 2014, the BJP government has brought in 80 ordinances bypassing parliament. “No other government has such a dubious record,” he said. 

Speaking on the bill for extending the tenure of the directors of ED and CBI, he said that the ED has got an election duty and whenever there is an election announcement in the states, it has nothing to do but to tarnish the image of the state governments and the political leaders of the opposition parties by hook or by crook. “If there is an allegation against a political leader except for leaders from BJP, ED appears and tells him that there are so many allegations against him and he has two choices. The first choice is that if the case is registered against him, he will be punished and his wealth will be seized, he will have to go to jail for the rest of his life. The second choice they give is that, if he joins BJP, he can save his assets and he can enjoy the rest of his life. That is why ED is called the agency on election duty. That is why several political leaders have turned to BJP,” he said.

He said that there should be no apprehension that extension of tenure of key appointments is dependent on the will, whims, and fancies of the government, as the same is also violative of the constitution of India insofar as other offices, similarly ranked, do not have this privilege and the process of a criminal investigation by these two agencies is feared to be less independent and more open to political pressure on account of these changes. 

Jharna Das Baidya,  CPI(M) MP from Tripura spoke on The National Institute Of Pharmaceutical Education And Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in Rajya Sabha on December 9 and urged the minister to set up an institute of pharmaceutical sciences in Tripura to help students of the community.

Baidya said that according to the bill, the council shall consist of the minister-in-charge of the ministry or department of the central government, having administrative control of the pharmaceuticals (ex officio), as the chairperson, minister of state of the ministry or department of the central government having administrative control of the pharmaceuticals (ex officio), as the vice-chairperson, three members of parliament (two from Lok Sabha and one from Rajya Sabha) and other certain members. She pointed out that it is not mentioned who the 'certain members' in this bill are and suggested that it should be made clear. 

She also highlighted the fact that there are several institutes having the status of ‘institutes of national importance’ and most of them are reluctant to comply with the principle of social justice and provide reservation in admissions and employment. She said that the same policy should not be repeated in these institutions and added that all attempts should be made to set up pharmaceutical colleges in different districts to make these courses available to students at the rural level. 

Jharna Das Baidya also spoke on the lack of computer and internet facilities in schools across the country. She said that only 22.3 per cent of schools across the country had internet facilities when our education was totally online during the lockdown period. “Among the government schools, only 12 per cent had internet facilities and less than 30 per cent had functional computer facilities according to an education ministry report on Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISEP). Our school education going completely online during the lockdown period the lack of computer and internet facilities in schools across the country will be a big challenge for both students and teachers,” she said. She also highlighted the fact that internet facilities in schools seem to be quite poor in the majority of states across government and private schools.