Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar announced the implementation of One Rank One Pension for veterans of the armed forces, fulfilling the long-awaited demand of ex-servicemen. The strikes were on throughout country for OROP and Ex-servicemen were protesting at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi for almost 3 months and finally on Saturday, Government accepted their demand. 13 veterans were on an indefinite hunger strike for past 20 days. The misinterpretation of required budget by previous government was reasoned for the delay in making decision.
Attending the press conference, Defence Minister said, “Despite the huge fiscal burden, given its commitment to the welfare of ex-servicemen, the government has taken a decision to implement OROP.”
“OROP will be fixed on the basis of calendar year 2013. Pension will be re-fixed for all pensioners on the same rank and with the same length of service as the average of minimum and maximum pension in 2013,” he added. The government has proposed to pay arrears in four half-yearly instalments. Minister also clarified that all widows, including war widows, will be paid arrears in one instalment.
It has also been proposed that defence personnel who voluntarily retire will not be covered under the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme. However, the new pension structure will apply to personnel who have already retired prematurely. Government clarified its stand on the revision of pension every five years.
Defence Minister told the media that the estimated cost of OROP implementation to the exchequer would be Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 10,000 crore while expenditure on arrears would be between Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 12,000 crore.
The veterans, however, expressed dissatisfaction over the proposed plan for One Rank One Pension scheme by the Government and said they were not “fully satisfied” with the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme as all of their demands had not been met. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar then met with the veterans for clarifying the doubts over some of the clauses of the announcement.
Major General (Retd.) Satbir Singh, Chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement said, “Though we welcome the implementation of the OROP by the government, we are not fully satisfied as they have not accepted the six points demanded by the ex-servicemen.”
“Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar clarified that soldiers who had taken premature retirement will not be excluded from the benefits of OROP, the assurance is satisfactory, but we will wait for a statement,” he told a news channel following the announcement.
Following the key points of the implemented OROP scheme, it has been stated that the government will stick to equalising pension every five years and not every year or maximum two years as demanded by the veterans. The base year for calculations would be 2013 and the pension will be equalised next in 2017. A one-member judicial committee will be set up to review the pension revision.
As per the earlier reports, the implementation of OROP scheme is expected to benefit around 2.5 lakh ex-servicemen and 6 lakh widows, who are entitled to lifetime pension.