The central government on Saturday announced that it had accepted One Rank One Pension for the army veterans.
In a hurriedly called news conference, the defence minister, Manohar Parrikar told reporters that contrary to the fund (Rs 500 crore) allocated by the UPA government, his government had earmarked more than Rs 8000 crore to meet the veterans’ demands.
Here are key points announced by Parrikar:
- Despite huge financial burden, the government has decided to implement OROP
- Future enhancements in rates of pension to be automatically passed on to past pensioners
- Personnel who voluntarily retire will not be covered in OROP scheme
- OROP implies bridging gap between rate of pension of current and past pensioners at periodic intervals
- Gap between rate of current and past pensioners to be bridged every 5 years
- Benefit of OROP to be given with effect from 1st July, 2014; a date immediately after the present Government assumed office
- OROP arrears to be paid in 4 half-yearly instalments; all widows, including war widows, to be paid arrears in one installment
Reacting to the announcement, the head of the protesting ex-servicement, Maj Gen(Retd) Satbir said that while he was happy on the announcement, the servicemen had rejected the offer as the government had only met one out of their seven demands.
He told mediapersons at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, ” We welcome the announcement on OROP and are satisfied with that. But we are not at all pleased that the government has excluded armed forces personnel who took VRS from enjoying the benefits of OROP. It is disappointing and we will seek clarification.”
Maj Gen Singh added that he had rejected appointment of one-member judicial committee.
He said, “We had told them to make it 5 member committee, which should have representations of three senior officers from the armed forces. But, they have not done that. The government has accepted one demand but rejected six others. We, therefore, reject this offer and our agitation will continue.”
The BJP, for its part, hailed the central government’s decision on OROP. The party spokesperson, Sambit Patra said that the Modi government had made it possible what was declared as impossible by ‘the finance minister, P Chitambaram’ in the UPA government.
Reactions from the armed forces have been mixed. Former army chief, General Deepak Kapoor, told NDTV that Modi government had taken a substantial step but other issues including the exclusion of those who took VRS are ’cause of concern.”
Vice Admiral (Retd) Suresh Bangara too said that it was ‘very unkind to have excluded those who had taken premature retirement for no fault of their own. The number of people who is likely to miss out on OROP for having taken VRS is close to one-third of the three million ex-servicemen.