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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Government today issued notification for implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) for ex-servicemen while Maj Gen Satbir Singh (Retd), Chairman of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement termed it unacceptable.

The long-pending ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP) scheme for ex-servicemen was tonight brought into force with government issuing a notification which will benefit over 25 lakh veterans and war widows.

However, the protesting ex-servicemen rejected the notification, saying their main demands have not been accepted and it has become “one-rank-five-pension.”

The notification is almost similar to the announcement made by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on September 5.

To begin with, pension would be re-fixed on the basis of pension of retirees of calendar year 2013 and the benefit will be effective with effect from July 1, 2014.

The veterans had demanded that the period for pension should be financial year 2013-14 and not the calender year.

Also, they wanted April 1 as the effective date instead of July 1.

The notification said that in future, the pension would be re-fixed every 5 years. However, ex-servicemen had been demanding revision of pension every two years, if not one.

In his immediate reaction to the notification, Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh, Chairman of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement spearheading the protest, said “the notification will not be acceptable to the rank and file. It is not One-Rank-One- Pension but One-Rank-Five-Pension”.

Another key element of the notification is that the armed forces personnel who opt to get discharged on their request would henceforth not get OROP benefits.

“It will be effective prospectively,” Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar tweeted.

The statement said the previous government had made a budget announcement to implement the OROP and made a provision of Rs 500 crore.

“The present government undertook the task earnestly and realised that the actual additional annual expenditure would be Rs 8,000 to 10,000 crore at present and will increase further in future.

“Notwithstanding the financial constraints, true to its commitment, the present government has issued the government order to implement the OROP in true spirit,” a statement by the Defence Ministry said.

The notification said pension will be re-fixed for all pensioners on the basis of the average of minimum and maximum pension of personnel retiring in 2013 in the same rank and with the same length of service. It added that pension for those drawing above the average shall be protected.

The veterans had demanded to take into account the maximum and not the average.

It said that the arrears will be paid in four equal half yearly instalments. However, all family pensioners, including those in receipt of Special/Liberalised family pensioners, and gallantry award winners shall be paid arrears in one instalment.

An important element in the notification was that personnel who opt to get discharged henceforth on their own request under Rule 13(3)1(i)(b), 13(3)1(iv) or Rule 16B of the Army Rule 1954 or equivalent Navy or Air Force Rules will not be entitled to the benefits of OROP. It will be effective prospectively.

The government has decided to appoint a Judicial Committee to look into anomalies, if any, arising out of implementation of OROP. The Judicial Committee will submit its report in six months.

Detailed instructions along with tables indicating revised pension for each rank and each category, shall be issued separately for updation of pension and payment of arrears directly by Pension Disbursing Agencies.

The Defence Ministry said the issue of OROP was a long standing demand.

Defence Forces had been demanding it for almost four decades but the issue could not be resolved.

However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a commitment to implement it for the welfare of the ex-servicemen and accordingly the government had announced modalities for implementation of OROP on September 5, the statement said.

It added that the the notification could not be issued due to model code of conduct.

Meanwhile, Maj Gen (retd) Singh said, “If it is revision every 5 years and average of the scale then it is not acceptable. This is not One Rank One Pension, but One Rank Five Pension. This is against what Parliament had announced”.

He questioned why has the government announced July 1 as the effective date. By not announcing it as April 1, the government is trying to deprive the veterans and war widows of the funds.

“At the face of it, we find this notification highly irrational,” he said.

Col (retd) Anil Kaul, Media Advisor to IESM said not all demands were met by the government, but there was a climbdown on the premature retirement. He, however, added that he had not read the notification.

Source : http://www.financialexpress.com/

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