Endless wait

Passing environment bills a low priority task for politicians

Published: Thursday 15 August 2002

on the first day of the monsoon session of parliament, Shatrughan Sinha, the recently inducted Union minister for health and family welfare -- appealed in the rajya sabha for a quick clearance of the Homeopathy Central Council (amendment) Bill, 2002. He candidly said, "This is my first time, be a little considerate." Luckily for Sinha, the bill was passed within a few minutes.

But the wait may be long for the pending 65 bills. Interestingly many of these bills are yet to be tabled in the houses formally though they have been listed for the past two to three sessions. Many of them have been brought in by individual members and are likely to have a bearing on environmental issues.

With parliament embroiled in raging debates between the treasury and the opposition, these bills are put on the backburner. A case in point is the Biological Diversity Bill, which was not voted upon for close to two years. "It is true that such bills get less attention," admits V K Malhotra, spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp).

Barring some bills considered very urgent and pushed by the government for immediate transaction, the fate of such pending bills remains uncertain. Private bills suffer the most though they dominate the list of bills to be discussed.

The house committee on private bills has still not taken a decision on the pending bills for the current session. "When something important comes up, the parliament usually debates that bill, leaving the pending ones for the later sessions," says spokesperson of Congress (I), Anand Sharma.

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