Government

Government Announces OROP but Veterans Reject Key Provisions

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar with Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha and Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag  at a press conference to announce implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme at South Block in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI Credit: Photo by Atul Yadav

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar with Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha and Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag at a press conference to announce implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme at South Block in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI Credit: Photo by Atul Yadav

New Delhi: The NDA government today announced its acceptance of the long-pending demand for ‘One Rank One Pension’ for retired members of the Indian armed forces but the ex-servicemen who have been on agitation rejected the key details of the decision and said their 84-day long stir will continue.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar announced here that the government has decided to implement OROP – the grant of a uniform pension across a given rank regardless of when a soldier or officer retires – under which there would be revision of pension every five years as against every two years demanded by the ex-servicemen.

The base year for calculation of the OROP would be calendar year 2013  and the policy would be implemented with effect from July 2014, Parrikar said while making it clear that ex-servicemen who have taken voluntary retirement would not be eligible for the scheme.

The government is also setting up a one-member judicial committee to work out details of OROP implementation which will file a report in six months, the minister said.

Reacting to the announcement, the leader of agitating ex-servicemen Maj Gen (retd) Satbir Singh said that while the veterans were satisfied with government’s intention to implement OROP, the proposed benefits were not acceptable to them.

Rejecting the provisions for pension revision after every five years and keeping those who take VRS out of the scheme among others, Singh said, “According to us, the government has accepted one of our demands and rejected six…at this point we cannot withdraw the agitation based on these details.”

Top defence ministry sources said the interest of those armed forces personnel who had to take VRS due to injuries will be protected.

“OROP is a complex issue. A thorough examination of interests of retirees of different periods and different ranks is needed. The inter-service issues of the three forces also require consideration. This is not an administrative matter alone,” said Parrikar while maintaining that the estimated cost to implement the scheme would be Rs 8,000-10,000 crore.

On arrears, he said they will be paid in four half-yearly instalments. However, all widows, including war widows, will be paid arrears in one instalment.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the government’s proposed benefits under OROP, Singh said, “We do not accept the decisions not to give OROP benefits to those who have taken premature retirement.

“We also disapprove setting up of one-member judicial committee.”

Asserting that they needed clarification on various issues, Singh said the agitation will continue and the future course of action will be decided shortly.

Close to 26 lakh retired servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be immediate beneficiaries of the scheme.

The Defence Minister said Rs 10,000-12,000 crore would be required to pay arrears to the ex-servicemen.

“Pension will be re-fixed for all pensioners retiring in the same rank and with the same length of service as the average of minimum and maximum pension in 2013. Those drawing pensions above the average will be protected,” Parrikar said.

The three service chiefs and the Defence Secretary were also present at the press conference where Parrikar read out a statement. The Defence Minister did not take any question.

Defence Ministry sources said government will come out with a detailed order on OROP within next one month.

Parrikar said the government has held extensive consultations with experts and ex-servicemen and decided to implement OROP despite the huge financial burden.

“The previous government had estimated that OROP would be implemented with a budget provision of mere Rs 500 crore. The reality, however, is that to implement OROP, the estimated cost to exchequer would be Rs 8,000 to 10,000 crore at present and will increase further in future,” Parrikar said.

The Defence Minister said the OROP issue was pending for nearly four decades and though the previous UPA government had made an announcement to implement it in 2014-15, it had not specified what the scheme would be.

“It is a matter of deep anguish that various governments remained ambivalent on the issue of OROP,” he said.

The Defence Minister complimented the defence forces for their service to the country.

  • ashok759

    It is evident that the government has conceded the demand with the utmost reluctance, not because it does not value the services of defence personnel, but because it constitutes a growing, open ended commitment that will have to be honoured by its successors as well. Not just India, the whole world is entering upon a period of lower growth. Tax buoyancy is bound to sag. The veterans must display a deeper understanding of the government’s fiscal compulsions.

  • NARENDRA M APTE

    (1) One feels that two main political
    parties, Congress and BJP have not shown expected maturity in handling this One
    Rank One Pension (OROP) issue. That is why
    a section of army veterans is in a mood to fight for more benefits under OROP
    scheme. (2) It is obvious that demands for OROP will only grow over time now
    that same has been announced for retired personnel of Armed forces Already
    paramilitary forces have demanded OROP; one Indian Railway Employees’ Union has
    made also made a similar demand. (3) It is not BJP alone which is using
    implementation of govt. decisions like OROP for seeking votes. All political
    parties are equally guilty of doing that. Of course our politicians are known
    to make promises on the eve of elections and then the hapless citizens pay by
    way of increase tax for implementation of some of such promised
    schemes and programmes, irrespective of merit of schemes/programmes. (4) I believe Seventh Pay Commission is a golden
    opportunity to the Central government to permanently close the subject for other
    Central govt. employees. My question is this: Whether the Central govt. will
    show political will to say that. Of course our politicians are known to make
    promises on the eve of elections and then the hapless citizens pay by way of
    increase tax for implementation of all populist schemes and programmes.

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