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Stalling Parliament costs taxpayers Rs 20,000 a minute

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August 09, 2006 19:20 IST
India loses nearly Rs 20,000 (about $400) every minute when politicians stall proceedings in Parliament.

Paralysing Parliament is a favourite political weapon for Opposition parties. When the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance coalition was in power, the Congress-led Opposition stalled Parliament on many issues.

Now that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance is in power, the BJP-led Opposition keeps disrupting Parliament whenever it can.

"Politicians have lost the sensibility to understand that every minute they disrupt Parliament, the common man's precious money is going down the drain," says Justice V R Krishna Iyer, the respected, retired Supreme Court judge.

"Politicians are not worried because they live by exploiting the taxpayer's money in India," the judge adds.

The parliamentary secretariat does not have the exact figures of how much money is lost when Parliament is paralysed.

Six months ago, the non-governmental organisation National Social Watch Coalition published a report titled 'Citizens Report on Governance and Development - 2006.'

The Coalition study found that between 1951 and 2003-2004, the cost of running the two Houses of Parliament registered an increase from Rs 100 per minute to Rs 18,430 per minute.

That figure is now estimated to have reached Rs 20,000 per minute.

Some other findings of the Coalition's survey:

  • In the 11th Lok Sabha (1996 to 1998) 5.28 per cent of the total Parliament time was lost in pandemonium. The figure increased to 10.66 per cent in the 12th Lok Sabha and more than doubled to 22.4 per cent between 1999 and 2004.
  • The current 14th Lok Sabha recorded 38 per cent time lost in the first two sessions, thanks to the row over the induction of 'tainted' members of Parliament into the UPA government and the absence of 'absconding' minister Shibu Soren.
  • The Rajya Sabha, reacting similarly to these issues, lost a whopping 46 per cent time in the corresponding 201st and 202nd sessions.

'The loss of time through pandemonium leading to the loss of designated parliamentary business eventually also translates into substantial loss of public money,' the report said.

The current Monsoon Session of both the Houses of Parliament is the fifth session of the 14th Lok Sabha. It began on July 24 and ends on August 30, and has 28 working days.

Out of this, there are three holidays: August 9 (Raksha Bandhan), August 15 (Independence Day) and August 16 (Janmashtami).

That means the Monsoon Session has 25 working days. At six hours a day, the session has 150 working hours to debate important national issues, discuss and pass several legislations, carry out a number of Constitutional amendments, etc.

On the first day of the session, the Opposition walked out in protest against the Manmohan Singh government's handling of terrorism and price rise.

By today, August 9, the members of Parliament should have spent 72 hours in the honourable tasks of legislations and debating national issues. About 35 hours have been lost because of Opposition walkouts, disruptions and pandemonium in both the Houses.

That means Rs 4.2 crore or Rs 42 million (about $800,000) has already been lost this session.

George Iype