The government today faced embarrassment in the Rajya Sabha as the concerned minister was not present to reply to a question, with the Chair saying it was an “extraordinary situation” not seen in several years. Congress member Mahendra Singh Mahra had raised the listed question on air and noise pollution in Delhi and NCR to the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change during the Question Hour.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh objected to the Minister’s absence and said “it has happened for the second time.”
Later, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, who was to reply to the question on behalf of Evironment Minister Anil Dave, apologised for coming late to the House. Javadekar had earlier held charge of Minister of Environment.
Terming it as the “most unusual situation”, Chairman Hamid Ansari said it is the responsibility of the concerned minister to be present in the House when a question relating to his or her ministry is taken up.
“This is an extraordinary situation and I am sure the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs will look into this and respond,” he said.
In the meanwhile, Javadekar reached the House and said he got late as he was introducing a bill in the Lok Sabha.
However, Ansari said “Prakash Ji, your question was called. You were not present. A most unusual sitation has arisen. I have not witnessed it for 10 years and probably earlier also”.
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He said as per the accepted practice of the House, when a listed question is taken up, the minister has to be present. “I am afraid you were late,” Ansari added. As opposition members tried to speak on the issue, Ansari said the point raised has been registered and went ahead with the Question Hour.
Before replying to the supplementary questions on behalf of Dave, Javadekar said: “First of all, I apologise because I was late. In the other House, I had to introduce a Bill related to my ministry”.
In his reply, the Minister said the ambient air quality for Delhi and NCR is monitored under the National Air Quality Monitoring Programme comprising 680 monitoring stations. “Air quality data for the period 2014-16 for Delhi and NCR does not show day-to-day continous increase in the level of air pollution and significant fluctuations are noted,” the reply said.