After making up for lost time last week with extended sitting time on Monday and Tuesday, the debate on the Motion of Thanks concluded in Lok Sabha, clocking over 15 hours. The Prime Minister replied to the discussion today in the House. In his speech, he stressed that the three farm laws do not bind the farmers to sell to the private players. Instead, they provide an additional alternative to the existing mandis. He added that no APMC mandi had shut down and nor had MSP been discontinued since the laws came into force (via Ordinances) in June last year. 

Following the Prime Minister's statement, the Motion of Thanks was adopted and the House took up general discussion on the Budget.

During the discussion, some Members noted that despite the headline increase of 137% towards healthcare, the breakdown included allocations for drinking water and sanitation and one-time expenditure on the vaccination program and that the actual allocation to the Department of Health and Family Welfare was considerably less. Please note that the Health Ministry has been allocated Rs 73,932 crore in 2021-22 compared with the Budget Estimate of Rs 67,112 crore in 2020-21.

Members participating in the discussion in Rajya Sabha said that the Budget did not address lost jobs and unemployment. One Member welcomed the government’s decision to not impose any new tax on the people despite a fall in its revenue collection. 

Earlier in the day, the Major Ports Authorities Bill, 2020 was passed in Rajya Sabha. The Bill provides for the creation of a Board of Major Port Authority for each major port, replacing the current Port Trusts. With 44 Members voting against the bill and 84 Members in favour, the bill was passed. 

During a Zero Hour intervention in Rajya Sabha, one Member brought the attention of the House to rising child marriages of girl children due to schools being closed during COVID-19. Citing RTI data that 18,324 distress calls related to child marriages were received on the 1098 Childline between April and October 2020, the Member asked the government to direct states to conduct statewide assessments to obtain national data on child marriages. 

Proceedings in Lok Sabha were ongoing at the time of uploading this note. 

Numbers to note 

62.98 million

The Ministry of Civil Aviation informed Rajya Sabha that 62.98 million passengers travelled on domestic flights in 2020 as opposed to 144.18 million in 2019. Similarly, 2020 saw 545,900 scheduled flight departures domestically as opposed to 10,52,700 in 2019.

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