Veterans unhappy with details of OROP announcement
The OROP scheme that would cost Rs.8,000- 10,000 crore, was rejected by military veterans who have vowed to continue their protest. The veterans wanted equalization of pension every two years and not five years as announced by the defence minister. They are also unhappy with the government's decision to not give OROP benefits to those who have taken voluntary retirement.
OROP demands that every soldier who retires in the same rank gets the same pension, irrespective of his date of retirement. As of now, soldiers who retired more recently receive more pension than those who did earlier, because pensions are dependent on the last drawn salary. Also, while every pay commission increases the salaries of government servants, pensions of ex-servicemen remain the same.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram announced that the Government would implement the OROP scheme for armed personnel from FY 2014-15. The Government transferred Rs.500 crore to the defence pension account to sort the present pension discrepancy. This was seen as an effort by the UPA to win the votes of 14 lakh serving and over 25 lakh retired military personnel.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed Rs.1,000 crore to be added to the budget to address the pension disparities and implement the policy of "one rank, one pension" for soldiers. The promise made by Chidambaram earlier, had not been implemented owing to bureaucratic delays. This move has received approval from ex-servicemen, who have been demanding the implementation of this scheme for the past seven years
Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) planned to organise a rally at Nagpur on 12 October 2014, to highlight their disappointment over the Government's delay. The Modi government is yet to issue any order regarding the implementation of OROP. Despite the Finance Minister's proclaimation of sanctioning Rs.1,000 crore for OROP, there have been no formal government orders for the implementation of the same.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar reiterated his Government's commitment towards the 'one rank, one pension' scheme and said that it would be implemented soon. He said that his ministry will forward the file to the Finance Ministry by 17 February to take the call. This assurance was given after a delegation of 27 servicemen had a meeting with Parrikar.
Implementation of the "One Rank, One Pension (OROP)" scheme for retired personnel of the armed forces may be announced by Modi during his Mathura rally. The rally would mark one year of the Modi government. The government told the Parliament earlier this year that the principle of OROP had been accepted and would be implemented once modalities were approved by the government.
Upset over the delay in the implementation of One Rank One Pension, ex-servicemen held nationwide protests including in Delhi, to express their displeasure. There were plans to go on hunger strike from the next day. Over 5000 war veterans are expected to join the agitation. The rally came after several rounds of official and back-channel talks failed to make any progress on the matter.
Implementing OROP will cost the government at least an estimated Rs.8,300 crore annually and the Finance Ministry has to take the final call on it now. This scheme will benefit 25 lakh ex-servicemen.
The Supreme Court had given the government six more months to implement OROP. Previously in February, SC had reminded the government of its promise to implement OROP in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and gave a three-month deadline for it implementation. The six week extension was given on a request made by Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, on the government's behalf.
OROP row escalated when Col. Pushpendra Singh (Retd) who was on indefinite hunger strike for the last 8 days got hospitalized. Singh was admitted to the ICU of Army Research and Referral Hospital. His condition is stable, said sources. The colonel along with Havaldar (retd.) Major Singh began indefinite fast after police tried to forcefully evict the veterans from Jantar Mantar on 14 August.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar announced the One Rank One Pension benefits for ex-servicemen. OROP would be fixed on the basis of calendar year 2013 and the pension will be re-fixed for all pensioners retiring in the same rank and same length of service. Pension will be revised every five years and arrears will be paid in four half-yearly installments.