New Delhi, Sep 5: The Narendra Modi government on Saturday will announce its decision to implement the one rank, one pension scheme (OROP) for former servicemen but the veterans have said they cannot trust its stance and will not accept a unilateral decision.
Sources told Hindustan Times that Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah will brief party spokespersons about OROP at 3pm and defence minister Manohar Parikkar will announce the scheme during a press conference.
The Centre is desperate to end the deadlock that has seen ex-servicemen stay away from government functions and some sitting on a hunger strike as the dates for the all-important Bihar assembly elections is likely to be announced soon.
The OROP, expected to benefit three million pensioners, will guarantee equal pension to military personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, regardless of the date of retirement.
The government is expected to announce its decision to remove disparities in pensions of veterans by effecting a revision every five years. But the veterans, who have been holding protests across the country for 82 days now, want the pension to be reworked every two years.
After protracted negotiations with ex-servicemen failed to iron out differences, government sources on Friday said necessary orders would be issued soon for the implementation of the one rank, one pension scheme from July 1, 2014. The veterans want April 1, 2014, as the kick-off date.
New pensions would be fixed with 2013 as the base year and “discrepancy between the present and previous pensioners” settled every five years, sources said.
The plan, however, has angered the veterans who accused the government of turning the “accepted definition of OROP” on its head.
“We still can’t trust the government. If our concerns are not met then our dharna will continue,” former servicemen Uday Singh told ANI.
Col Rajeev (retd) added, “If any decision is taken without taking us into confidence, then it will not be accepted.”
On Friday, Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd), who heads the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, had said the government would be implementing one rank, five pensions and threatened to intensify the stir.
“We reject this unilateral attempt to implement OROP. The move smacks of arrogance. We will not settle for anything less than pension revision every two years,” said Maj Singh.
Sources said the government would constitute a single-member judicial committee to look into various aspects of OROP including inter-services matters. It will submit its report in six months.
The government’s calculations show that the annual payout towards implementing OROP would be in the range of Rs 8,000 crore to Rs 10,000 crore, with the figures spiralling upwards in the coming years. Also, sources said, arrears would amount to anywhere between Rs 10,000 crore and Rs 12,000 crore.
While widows will get arrears in lump-sum, others will be paid in four half-yearly installments. Army personnel who have taken voluntary retirement will not be covered under OROP.
2015 Kashmir Despatch