“Arrears would be paid in four instalments in every quarter. The first instalment, which will cost about Rs 3,700 crore in total, would be given before March 31,” Parrikar said here on the sidelines of the International Fleet Review, 2016.
The family pensioners and recipients of gallantry awards will be paid their arrears in one instalment. Almost 18 lakh retired soldiers and several lakhs of widows are expected to benefit from the new pension package.
As the scheme is being implemented from July 1, 2014, total arrears up to December 31, 2015 would be in the tune of Rs 10,980 crore. The government issued pension calculation tables for each rank earlier this month.
According to the Defence Ministry’s calculation, implementing the OROP scheme would cost the exchequer Rs 7,483 crore every year.
“It is 15 times more than what the UPA government had provided in its budget (Rs 500 crore). OROP was a promise of the BJP and the prime minister. To the best of my understanding, we fulfilled it after 43 years,” he said.
A section of the ex-servicemen, who were agitating against the government’s version of the OROP, however, rejected the tables and threatened to exercise legal action.
“We unanimously reject the tables as it does not remove any of the anomalies pointed out by the ex-servicemen. It short charges widows, battle casualties and the ranks of havildar, subedar and subedar major,” said Col Anil Kaul (rtd), one of the veterans protesting against the OROP.On the protests, Parrikar said these were minor issues raised by few people from the retired community, who can have a dialogue with the government to resolve them.
As much as 86 per cent of the total expenditure on account of OROP will benefit the junior commissioner officers and other ranks, said a Defence Ministry spokesperson.
The total increase in the defence budget for pensions is estimated to go up from Rs 54,000 crore (budgetary estimate 2015-16) to around Rs 65,000 crore (proposed in 2016-17), thereby increasing the defence pension outlay by about 20 per cent.
Asked about the anomalies in the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations, Parrikar said he met the Service Chiefs and sought a report analysing the concerns, which would be addressed.
One of the key concerns of the military is lowering of the hardship allowance as the Seventh Pay Commission recommended higher “risk allowance” for IAS and IPS officers posted in Guwahati than the Army officers posted in Siachen glacier, the world’s highest battlefield.