The government on Saturday announced the implementation of the long-awaited OROP scheme assuring an equal pension to three million military personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, regardless of the date of retirement. Defence minister Manohar Parrikar announced the one rank, one pension scheme during a press conference. Earlier in the day, veterans, who had been holding protests across the country for 82 days, met Parrikar and said the defence minister had assured them that the government has broadly accepted the concept of OROP. They had reiterated their stand that they will not accept any unilateral move by the government and said that its reported plans to exclude ex-servicemen who had opted for VRS from OROPscheme was not acceptable to them. The government announced its decision to remove disparities in pensions of veterans by effecting a revision every five years. After protracted negotiations with ex-servicemen failed to iron out differences, the government issued orders for the implementation of the one rank, one pension scheme from July 1, 2014. 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 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