In a bid to break the deadlock, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday announced that the government has agreed to implement `One Rank, One Pension` scheme. The veterans have, however, rejected the government’s offer.
Addressing a press conference after holding two separate meetings with agitating ex-servicemen and Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah earlier in the day, Parrikar said: “The government has decided to implement the OROP.”
Saying that the OROP issue has been pending for nearly four decades, Parrikar said to implement OROP, the estimated cost to the exchequer would be Rs 8,000 crore-Rs 10,000 crore at present, and will increase further in future.
The government has held extensive consultations with experts and ex-servicemen on the issue, said Parrikar, adding that the OROP implies that uniform pension be paid to the Armed Forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, regardless of their date of retirement.
The minister that the government has decided that the gap between rate of pension of current pensioners and past pensioners will be bridged every five years.
He further announced that the OROP will be implemented from July 1, 2014 and the base year would be 2013.
Arrears will be paid in four half-yearly instalments. All widows, including war widows, will be paid arrears in one instalment, he added.
Pension will be re-fixed for all pensioners retiring in the same rank and same length of service as the average of minimum and maximum pension in 2013, announced Parrikar.
The minister also cleared that personnel who voluntary retire will not be covered under OROP scheme.
In future, the pension would be re-fixed every five years, said Parrikar.
PM Narendra Modi has fulfilled his commitment and approved OROP for the armed forces personnel, said Parrikar, adding the Ministry of Defence will issue the detailed order soon.
Responding to Parrikar’s statement, Major Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh, who is leading the campaign, said while the veterans were satisfied with the government’s intention to implement the OROP, they made it clear that the proposed benefits were not acceptable to them.
He said they disapprove of setting up of one-member judicial committee. “It should be under the Defence Minister and not given more than one month.”
He said that the veterans wanted clarifications from the government on issues like pre-mature retirement benefits and averaging of pension.
The agitating ex-servicemen will decide future course of action in response to the Defence Ministry’s announcement shortly, said Singh.
He added that the ex-servicemen would not withdraw their agitation and reject the government’s decision for revision of pension every five years.
According to us, the government has only accepted one of our demands and rejected six, said Singh.
Close to 26 lakh retired servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for the defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.
Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations of the time when he or she retired. So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws less pension than a Lt Colonel who retired after 1996.