Parliament Winter Session live updates | Upper House discusses Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022

The Winter Session of Parliament resumed proceedings today morning with Samajwadi Party’s Dimple Yadav taking oath as a member of the Lok Sabha. During Question Hour, the Opposition attacked the Centre over the depreciation of the Indian Rupee. In response, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman reiterated that the Indian currency remains the strongest.

The Upper House passed the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, while several Opposition members demanded that the Bill be sent to a Parliamentary Committee for scrutiny as it dealt with newer concepts such as carbon markets as a measure to meet emission targets and also alleged that the Bill lacked involvement of States. The Lower House took up matters under Rule 377.

So far, it has been business as usual in both Houses, as opposed to a turbulent Monsoon Session. The Winter Session will conclude on December 29.

Explained | What’s on agenda for the 2022 Winter Session of Parliament?

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Lok Sabha adjourns for the day

Speaker Om Birla adjourns the Lok Sabha for the day. The House will reconvene at 11 a.m. on Tuesday (December 13).

The House proceedings have been adjourned for the day.

Rajya Sabha will reconvene on Tuesday, December 13 at 11.00 a.m.

MP John Brittas raises a matter of gender justice in his Special Mention address.

“It is a pressing priority that the government should provide free sanitary products to school-going girls. There is a direct link between school dropout rates and period poverty,” Dr. Brittas says.

He also touches upon the larger issue of pink tax and “how women pay a higher price simply for existing in the world as non-men”.

Jayadev Galla calls on Government to fulfill committments in Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act

Jayadev Galla of the TDP raises the issue of Andhra Pradesh farmers, who have given their lands for the construction of capital city Amaravati, protesting for their demands to be fulfilled. He asks the Centre to announce that Amaravati be announced as the capital city of Andhra Pradesh.

He also mentions Polavaram project and calls it “the lifeline of Andhra Pradesh” and urges the government to approve the revised cost estimate of Rs. 55,548 crore which includes the cost for land acquisition and relief for the people displaced due to the project. Further, he also asks the Finance Minister to release the funds to fulfill the 18 committments mentioned in the AP reorganisation Act.

“This is the final budget that is going to be presented before the 10-year deadline that is mentioned in the AP Reorganisation Act comes to a close,” he mentions.

Rajya Sabha passes Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022.

The House is now discussing Special Mentions.

There is no alternative to earth, this is the only planet we have: R.K. Singh

Pitching his Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and recounting the steps taken by the government to enhance usage of cleaner energy, Mr. Singh says that we have to try our best to save the earth.

While the minister expresses confidence in the steps taken by India to solve the climate crisis, he does not seem impressed with the performance of other countries. “We are doing our best, but if you ask me whether other developed countries are doing their best, I will say I have questions and doubts.”

We hear a lot of talks (from developed countries), but I don’t see any concrete action, says Mr. Singh. His address has been followed by a brief applause and thumping of desks.

India didn’t need to take the steps it has in the field of clean energy, but we are doing it because we care for our environment: R.K. Singh 

India’s average per capita emission is one-third of the world average, Mr. Singh informed the Upper House. India’s contribution to global carbon load is only 3.4%, he adds, while our population is 17.4% of the world.

“We are not responsible for the global warming that has happened so far, but we are not concerned with that. Our government believes that the environment is precious and we will do all that is needed to protect it,” the power and renewable energy minister says. 

Renewable Energy Minister replies on the debate about Energy Conservation Bill

India is an undisputed leader in renewable and clean energy, says Power and Renewable Energy Minister R.K. Singh. 

“For smaller countries, achieving these targets is easier. India is a huge country. For us, it is really something,” the minister says while addressing Rajya Sabha on the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022. 

Parliament informed about vacancies in central universities

Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan informed the Lok Sabha on Monday that out of 18,956 sanctioned teaching posts in 45 Central Universities in regular mode, 12,776 posts were filled up and 6,180 posts remained vacant as on December 1, 2022.

He said that the occurrence of vacancies and their filling is a continuous process and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) had been directed to fill up the vacancies in a Mission Mode.

We have been neglected, plead with the FM to help West Bengal become stronger: TMC MP Sougata Roy 

TMC MP Sougata Roy
| Photo Credit:
Sansad TV

Speaking on the debate about Demand for Grants, TMC MP from Dum Dum (West Bengal) Sougata Roy asked Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to be more “charitable and fairer” towards West Bengal. “We have huge pending dues from the Central Govt, some say it is Rs 1 lakh crore; Rs 7,300 crore in NREG (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and huge amounts in house for all,” he stated.

Pointing to allocation of additional funds being for modernising railways, he asked the finance minister to consider some of the pending projects in West Bengal.

Previously, the Dum Dum MP had said the Govt had not enumerated the mitigation steps to improve the rupee’s strength vis-a-vis U.S. dollar and inflation. He remarked, “Have we left it to the RBI alone to control inflation? Or the Govt has anything to say about inflation?”.

Rajya Sabha | Remarks by the Chair

VP cautions Rajya Sabha members on “unsubstantiated remarks”

Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar cautioned members about unsubstantiated remarks, saying that they could be tantamount to breach of privilege of the House.

During the Zero Hour, AAP’s Sanjay Singh alleged the government was misusing investigative agencies to target opposition leaders. He said that in the past eight years, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted 3,000 raids on the opposition leaders but only 23 persons could be convicted. The Chair asked Union Minister Piyush Goyal about the remark, who said that the claim about 3,000 raids on political people was “completely erroneous” and without any substance.

Mr. Dhankhar said anything being spoken in the House has to be precise and with sanctity and ownership. “We cannot allow any member to give out facts that are not substantiated and that constitute a very serious breach of privilege. I am very particular about it…” Dhankhar also said a newspaper report or an opinion given by someone was also not consequential. – PTI

Godda MP Nishikant Dubey says the Modi Govt would be ready to allocate more money for farmers’ welfare, if needed 

Godda MP Nishikant Dubey argued that since India did not possess the raw material for producing fertilisers. He added, “Should India not accord subsidies then? Should they (farmers) be subject to market rates?”.

Rs 9.98 lakh cr disbursed under PM Mudra Yojana in three years: FM

 Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman informed the Lok Sabha that more than 16.67 crore loans having a sanctioned amount of Rs 9.98 lakh crore were extended under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) in the last three financial years ending March 2022. She added that out of the total loans, over 11.08 crore loans worth sanctioned amount of Rs 4.42 lakh crore were extended to women.

What is the Mudra Yojana?

The Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) provides collateral-free institutional credit up to Rs 10 lakh to micro/small business units for income-generating activities in the manufacturing, trading, and services sector and also for activities allied to agriculture through banks, Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) and Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs).

Rajya Sabha member Priyanka Chaturvedi, Dec 12, 2022
| Photo Credit:
Sansad TV

The Shiv Sena MP from Maharashtra points out that under the proposed Bill, the penalties applicable even on residential buildings will be decided by the Centre but will have to be implemented by the State and local governments. “Not having them as part of this entire discussion mechanism, I think, is faulty to begin with,” Ms. Chaturvedi remarks.

Carbon credits: Talking about the carbon credits scheme proposed in the Bill, the Shiv Sena MP asks the government to specify if the allocation of carbon credits would be done through an auction scheme. If so, she says, a lot of small companies would also need to participate in the carbon trading scheme if they are emitters and it will be a very expensive affair for them. She suggests that the initial allocation of the carbon credits be done free of cost.

GST evasion by gaming companies under probe: Finance Ministry

Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary said on Monday that GST evasion of about ₹23,000 crores by gaming companies between April 2019 and November 2022 is being investigated by the tax officers

Read More: GST evasion of ₹23,000 crore by gaming companies in April 2019-Nov 2022 period being investigated

India imported Rs 2.3 lakh crore worth of coal in Apr-Sep FY23: Ministry of Coal

Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi said in a reply to the Rajya Sabha that India imported 131.92 million tonnes of coal worth Rs 2.3 lakh crore in the April-September period of the current financial year. The Minister also informed that the coal import was in FY21 was 215.25 MT, 248.54 MT ( FY20), 235.35 MT (FY19) and 208.25 MT (FY18).

Import of coal in India is mainly of coking coal and other high gross calorific value (GCV) coal as domestic production is either limited owing to scarce reserves or non-availability. – PTI

The Lower House takes up discussion on supplementary demands for grants, MP Shashi Tharoor raises concerns 

Speaking on the Government’s demand for grants for FY 2022-23 stated the Government had previously laid out high rhetoric, grand ambition, exaggerated numbers and unrealistic targets which have all diluted with underwhelming allocations to crucial sectors. “The very fact that the Finance Minister has come back with such a large supplementary demand for grants testifies to this,” he stated.

He specifically spoke of the 25% reduction in the fertiliser subsidy announced in the Union Budget. The Thiruvananthapuram MP stated that it is a matter of grave concern that India is becoming increasingly reliant on fertiliser imports. Mr Tharoor stated that the Govt’s endeavour about Aatmanirbharta has not borne fruit.

He specifically pointed to the Standing Committee on Chemicals and Fertilisers’ observations two years ago about manufacturing facilities not working at the maximum efficiency and using “highly outdated” technologies. MP Tharoor stated, “The Government would have to bear the cost of this efficiency through (according) higher subsidies. Capex was allocated only a measly 0.05 crore in the current and there is no addition to that in the revised budget. “It is doubtful that the Government is in fact putting in sufficient resources to focus on improvement of our infrastructure and capacity,” he stated.

Speaking on farmer’s welfare, the Congress MP referred to an RTI reply that held that disbursement to beneficiaries under the PM-KISAN Samaan Nidhi Scheme had fallen by 67% in the 11th instalment – disbursed in October 2022.

About MNREGA, the original allocation also needed to account for an estimated Rs 20,000 crore in payments pending for the previous year. Most experts have consistently argued that MNREGA needs an additional anywhere Rs 1.3-3.4 lakh crore to cater to the burgeoning demand for jobs with minimum guarantee days of 100 days of work.

He stated that in May and June this year, a total of 3 crore people had sought under MNREGA – which was a 43% increase from pre-pandemic levels and indicative of widespread inflation and severe unemployment under which the rural economy is currently grappling. Further, experts have also highlighted that pending wages amounted to Rs 11,097 crore in June this year.

Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor raises about the recent cyber-attack on AIIMS Delhi 

Senior Congress leader and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor raised concerns about the recent cyber-attack on the IT servers of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi. He observed that it resulted in data losses which impeded its normal operations including patient registration, consultation booking and availability of medical records. The Congress leader added that the origin, intent and extent of the attack remain unclear and urged the treasury to recognise it as a matter of public importance, take the house into confidence and apprise it of the measures being taken to prevent a reoccurrence.

“While the possibility of this being a hostile cross-border attack is a grave concern – which calls for a thorough investigation a tough response, it also reflects the weak data protection safeguards in our country, especially in government institutions,” he stated. Moreover, the Congress leader told the house that The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 had created a special category of sensitive personal data, including health data, that required stringent safeguards which was unfortunately been done away with in the new draft bill released by the Government.

RJD MP says Energy Conservation Bill should have been sent to Parliamentary Committee for scrutiny

Manoj Kumar Jha says the Bill relates to areas not very familiar to all the members and in the Indian context while western countries have been deliberating on these issues for longer. He cites this as a reason the Bill should have been referred to a committee for legislative scrutiny.

He adds that there is a “domain conflict” vis-a-vis the Bill, i.e. in other countries Bills of this nature come from their Environment Ministries but here it has been brought by the Power Ministry.

The Bihar MP asks if any of the following have been clarified in the Bill-

  • What system are we planning to follow for carbon trading?
  • Whether India has identified that standard emission factors that can be used to determine the emissions of individual entities?
  • Whether there are checks and balances so that the authorities do not indulge in favouring certain clientele at the cost of others?

Carbon markets should be equitable, says DMK MP

P. Wilson, DMK MP from Tamil Nadu points out that the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill proposes the setting up of carbon credit markets but does not clarify how carbon credit certificates will be traded or who will be regulating such trading.

What are carbon markets?

Carbon markets are trading systems in which carbon credits are sold and bought. Carbon credits are generated through activities that reduce greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide from the air like afforestation. The United Nations Development Programme defines one carbon credit to be equal to one tonne of carbon dioxide or the equivalent amount of a different greenhouse gas reduced, sequestered or avoided. These carbon credits are sold to polluters to offset their emissions as a way to helping them to meet thier emissions targets to curb global warming.

The member says that while the introduction of carbon markets in India is a welcome step, he argues that the scheme might “end up just providing an escape route mechanism” to carbon-intensive industrial sources. He asserts that a successful carbon market requires a high-enough carbon price that will disincentivise polluting behaviour. The carbon markets in India, he says, should be planned in such a way that the value of the carbon certificates is increased and can actually make an impact on the ground.

He points out that the penalties mentioned in the Bill should not be uniformly applied to all industries, fearing that it they may not be equitable or stringent enough for the bigger players in the carbon-intensive sector. The penalties should be based on the profit margins of the companies rather than the rate of carbon emissions, he argues, as done in many countries.

Proceedings resume in the Lower House. House is taking up matters under Rule 377.

Session resumes in Upper House, discussion on Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill begins

The Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was passed in the Lok Sabha in August and in the Upper House in the current session. It seeks to amend the Energy Conservation Act, 2001 and provides for the establishment of carbon credit markets.

It brings large residential buildings under the energy conservation regime and mandates the use of non-fossil sources, including green hydrogen, green ammonia, biomass and ethanol, for energy and feedstock, according to the statement of objects and reasons.

Pre-lunch session concludes in Lower House

Proceedings will resume at 2 p.m.

Congress’ Manish Tewari demands pensionary, health benefits for non-permanent officers

Congress MP Manish Tewari demanded the government to introduce One Rank, One Pension for Short Service Commission and Emergency Commissioned Officers and those admitted under the Women Special Entry scheme.

“These officers perform the same roles and responsibilities when compared to those granted permanent commission. Unfortunately, they are denied pension and health benefits. Most of these are war veterans. I appeal to the government to give such officers one rank, one pension on a pro-rata basis and extend health benefits to them so that they can live their lives in dignity and respect that they deserve.”

Rajya Sabha breaks for lunch

The Rajya Sabha stands adjourned till 2.00 p.m.

Focusing on last-mile connectivity: Civil Aviation Minister

MPs asked questions about the UDAAN scheme for domestic travel in Odisha and other states, including a question about Rourkela airport.

We have good connection from tier-1 to tier-2 cities, but we should see last-mile connectivity, Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said. Saying that the ministry introduced a small aircraft scheme for less than 20-seater planes, he said that they had provided awards for connectivity across the country, from Telangana to Lakshadweep to northeastern hilly states.

Union Minister fields questions about urban transportation

MP Fauzia Khan asks about what the Ministry is doing for the safety of women in urban transport. INC MP Dr. Amee Yaignik asks about electrification of public transport and how the ministry proposes to encourage adoption of public transport of the people.

Most of the new rollout of vehicles will be electrified, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri says.

Agnipath scheme raised during Zero Hour

Rashtriya Loktantrik Party leader Hanuman Beniwal expresses concern over Agnipath defence recruitment scheme. The RLP leader said the scheme is neither in favour of aspirants nor the armed forces as he urged the Centre to reconsider the scheme. 

Government seeking to rehabilitate Delhi slums: Union Minister

Responding to a question about the demolition of slums in Delhi, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri says that the government is seeking to achieve slum rehabilitation. He says the law states that jhuggis, zhopdis and bastis which came before January 1, 2006, and jugghis before January 1, 2015 cannot be demolished before compensation, and no new ones are allowed.

He says that jugghi owners, eligible or not, have gotten stays from courts, he says. We have provided alternative accommodations to the eligible ones.

Question hour underway

A turbulent Zero Hour comes to an end and the House moves to Question Hour.

Heated debate over currency depreciation

Members of Parliament engaged in a heated debate as Congress’ Anumula Revant Reddy raised a query on the Centre’s efforts to improve the value of the Indian Rupee. In her reply, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman attacked the Opposition, saying the entire economy was in the ICU when they were in power. “India is now the fastest-growing economy despite the pandemic and Ukraine-Russia war. The Opposition is jealous when they should be proud. They should be ashamed,” the minister said.

“Indian Rupee has been strong against every currency. The US dollar is getting stronger because of US Fed’s policies,” the minister added. “The Reserve Bank has used foreign exchange reserves to intervene in the market just to make sure that the Dollar-Rupee fluctuation does not go too much… volatility of that fluctuation can lead to several consequences. And so foreign exchange reserves, to some extent, were used by RBI,” the Finance Minister said.

Meanwhile, Question Hour has concluded.

House erupts in chaos over AAP MP Zero Hour issue

House erupts in chaos as AAP MP Sanjay Singh says there has been misuse of investigating agencies against Opposition members and that the Enforcement Directorate raided about 3000 opposition members in past 8 years, with a conviction rate of only 0.5%.

He also said that people like Nirav Modi, or those connected to the government, are not investigated and that they should be arrested.

Mr. Jagdeep Dhankar addresses the house and says that he asked the member to table his question, since they should see if matters are verified.

Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge pointed out that members are using information obtained from media reports, responses to starred and unstarred questions, and words spoken by the Prime Minister. Leader of the House Piyush Goyal says that members are making unsubstantiated claims. He says that these matters are before competent courts.

Mr. Dhankar says he will have a conversation with the floor leaders and the leaders of smaller parties. He also asks Sanjay Singh to substantiate his claims and leave it on the table.

Zero hour underway

BJP MP Pabitra Margherita says that tea should be made the national drink of the country. He also says that what is being sold as “blue tea” is not actually tea. Further, he asks for the economic rights of tea workers to be protected. Later, DMK MP M. Shanmugam also raises a tea-related issue, asking for minimum support price (MSP) for tea and that pay for tea workers should be fixed.

Unemployment, rise of personal loan apps, the requirement to extend the operation of GST-related provisions, and doubts about whether the Rs. 2000-note is legal tender are all raised with the permission of the Chair.

Congress MP Deepender Singh Hooda also tables a Zero Hour notice to raise the matter of medical bond policy.

Dr. Manmohan Singh, Luizinho Faleiro on medical leave for winter session

Dr. Manmohan Singh and Luizinho Faleiro request leave on medical grounds for the entire session for December 7 to 29 via letter. Leave is granted by majority assent.

Mr. Dhankar also requests parties to assign seats in the Rajya Sabha, indicating that several parties such as Bhartiya Janata Party, Indian National Congress, AAP, TRS, YSRCP, J(DU), NCP, AIADMK, Samajwadi Party and Shiv Sena, have not done so yet.

SP leader Dimple Yadav takes oath as Lok Sabha MP

Samajwadi Party leader Dimple Yadav has taken her seat in the Lower House. Question Hour is now underway in the Lok Sabha.

Rajya Sabha resumes session, Chair congratulates P.T Usha

The Rajya Sabha kicks off its proceedings for the day. The Chair Jagdeep Dhankar congratulates P.T Usha on becoming the first woman and Olympian to be the president of the Indian Olympic Association on December 10, 2022. Enumerating her achievements, the chair said that both as President and member of the house, Ms. Usha contributes to the sustenance of a sports-friendly ecosystem in the country. Her contributions are bound to be inspiring and motivating, he said. 

Lok Sabha reconvenes; Congress MP gives adjournment motion notice

Proceedings have resumed in the Lok Sabha. Congress’ Sonia Gandhi is in attendance.

Meanwhile, Congress MP Manish Tewari has given a notice for an adjournment motion to discuss the alleged tensions between the judiciary and the Centre.

What is the Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Orders (Second Amendment) Bill?

The Bill seeks a revision of the lists of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) of Uttar Pradesh. It excludes the Gond community from the SC list in four districts of Uttar Pradesh — Sant Kabir Nagar, Sant Ravidas Nagar, Kushinagar and Chandauli — and adds the community to the ST list in these four districts. The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha in April.

Legislative business in the Rajya Sabha

The Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Orders (Second Amendment) Bill, 2022 will be taken up for discussion.

The Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Orders (Second Amendment) Bill seeks a revision of the list of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) of Uttar Pradesh. It excludes the Gond community from the SC list in four districts of Uttar Pradesh — Sant Kabir Nagar, Sant Ravidas Nagar, Kushinagar, and Chandauli — and adds the community to the ST list in these four districts.

What’s on the list of business in Lok Sabha?

1. Samajwadi Party leader Dimple Yadav will take oath as a member of the Lok Sabha today. Ms. Yadav defeated the BJP’s Raghuraj Singh Shakya by 2,88,461 votes in the Mainpuri bypoll.

2. Discussion and voting on the first batch of supplementary demands for grants for 2022-2023, followed by discussion and voting on demands for excess grants for 2019-2020.

3. On the legislative business is the Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill, 2019. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar will move to further consider and pass the Bill.

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