Friday, July 3, 2015
OROP: Parrikar calls veterans home, assures, fails to break deadlock
The meeting took place at the Akbar road residence of Manohar Parrikar, where the defence minister, Army chief General Dalbir Singh were present along with seven representatives of the Indian Ex Servicemen Movement.
It took eighteen days of protests in the national capital and an intervention by Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar for the first contact between protesting armed forces veterans and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to take place. However, the meeting failed to break the deadlock with the veterans insisting that they won't call off their protest just yet.
The meeting took place at the Akbar road residence of Manohar Parrikar, where the defence minister, Army chief General Dalbir Singh were present along with seven representatives of the Indian Ex Servicemen Movement (IESM). While the initial time was 6pm, the meeting which went on for forty minutes was postponed to 8pm.
Said IESM General Secretary Group Captain Captain (Retd) VK Gandhi, "It was a positive meeting. The minister assured us of the party and the government's resolve in implementing the OROP. He also said that the file on OROP had come to him with comments from different departments only today and that he needed to go through." He added, "Parrikar said anyone can write their observations on the file but the political class will take a stand and reason it out. He also assured us there will be no dilution." Asked if this was good enough for them to call off their protests, Gandhi replied in the negative. Another meeting in this regard may take place on Monday or Tuesday as Parrikar has sought time from the veterans to go through all the issues that departments have put on file.
Earlier in the day, when Chandrasekhar visited the site of the protest, he was informed that the only way to break the protest would be for the government to commit a date publically by when the OROP implementation would take place.
When asked, the MoD did not have an comment to provide on the matter.
What is OROP?
* One Rank One Pension, simply put is similar pension to all who held the same rank and put in equal number of years of service, irrespective of when one retired
* Implementing OROP will ensure that an army Major (example) retired in 1985 will get the same pension as one retiring in 2015, provided they have put in equal number of years in service
* Term popularized by Supreme Court's using it in 1983
* Ex Servicemen claim the case concerns close to 30 lakh pensioners, including widows
* Govt believes the financial implication of agreeing to OROP will come to the tune of Rs 8500 crore
* Govt has clarified that no matter when OROP is implemented, payments to veterans will be from April 1, 2014
* In February 2014, in its final Vote On Account, the UPA cleared OROP and allocated Rs 500 crore
* In July 2014, presenting the NDA's first interim budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley allocated Rs 1000 crore
* However, till date there has no government order operationalising budget announcement
(Follow the writer on Twitter @JRPur)