Saturday, September 5, 2015

OROP: Ex-servicemen meet Manohar Parrikar, discuss modalities

The govt is likely to announce 'one rank, one pension' scheme today

Amid a stand-off over 'one rank, one pension' (OROP), the agitating ex-servicemen on Saturday met defence minister Manohar Parrikar to discuss modalities of government's proposal for resolution of the issue, but made it clear that they would not compromise on their key demands. 

With their agitation at Jantar Mantar seeking early implementation of OROP entering the 83rd day on Saturday, retired personnel of the armed forces made it clear that they would not compromise on the basic concept of their demand that no senior should get lesser pension than a junior at any time. 

The veterans also said that OROP would be applicable to those who have sought voluntary retirement and are getting pension, as well as those getting disability pension.

Amid reports that government would announce the OROP formula before the model code of conduct sets in ahead of Bihar polls, Satbir Singh, spokesman of the protesting veterans Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh, said the condition of revision every five years cannot meet their basic concept. 

"Today we have got indication that government is inclined to implement the OROP. We are meeting the defence minister... We have discussed what government wants to give. We are going to the defence minister with an open mind. We will take further decision after meeting him," he said. 

Singh, who is chairman of Indian Ex-servicemen Movement, said one thing was very important that all those veterans who sought voluntary retirement and are getting pension, will get OROP and those getting disability pension will also get it. 

On reports that government was considering leaving them out of OROP, he said, "This is not acceptable. We reject it. OROP will also be applicable on those getting disability pension. These issues are non-negotiable." 

He said, "If government agrees on our concept, we are open. If concept is met, we can think and discuss. If concept is not met, then we will reject it." 

"Our main proposal is that a senior should not get pension less than a junior. We will wait for full plan of government and then come with a calibrated response," he said. 

Asked if they were ready for a revision every five years, as sought to be proposed, Singh said, "Whether it is 5 years, one year or two years. If our concept is not met, then we will reject it and will fight for it." 

He said whenever allowance or slab is increased it has to be passed on to the pensioners, including previous pensioners and there cannot be a situation where a junior gets more pension than a senior. 

"If senior's pension is less than a junior, government will have to think. This condition cannot be met if revision is done after five years. For us, it has to be done every year. If government gives any other time frame when junior gets less pension than senior, we are ready to discuss it," he said. 

The Modi government is set to announce a "one rank, one pension" package for ex-armed forces personnel that will kick in from July 2014 and use 2013 as the base year for calculations. 

Though military veterans are insisting the pensions be revised at least once every two years, the government is determined to stick to its position on a five-year reset clause. The decision to opt for a five-year timeframe - as against 10 years for civilians - factors complications resulting from a quicker adjustment. The ex-servicemen had originally demanded an annual adjustment. 

The benefit of OROP would be available to war widows too but those who have opted for voluntary retirement would not be eligible.


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