New Delhi: The government has approved the One Rank One Pension (OROP) concept in principle, Major General Satbir Singh (retd.), who is spearheading the campaign for the scheme's implementation, said in New Delhi on Saturday.
He told the media that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has also agreed to the issue of extending OROP to ex-servicemen who took premature retirement.
Major General Satbir Singh (retd.). Pic/ANI
"By the grace of God, OROP has been approved by the government," Maj. Gen. Satbir Singh said at a press conference at Jantar Mantar.
"The third bone of contention is still there, which is when the revision of pension should take place. While the government is saying it should be five years, we have said that this will kill the definition of One Rank One Pension. The minister has said a committee will be formed on this," he said.
Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd), Chairman of Indian Ex-Servicemen said the government while accepting the concept of the OROP, was still insisting on pension revision every five years and that is why it was thinking of constituting a committee. Singh said after the meeting that in that case a representative of the veterans and one from the services should also be in the committee. He said the committee should not take more than one month.
Ahead of government's likely announcement of OROP, Singh said government has broadly accepted the concept of the scheme and that they will study the details after it is made public. The delegation, he said, presented their views on the sticky issues including pension equalisation. "Government has accepted the OROP concept broadly," the Chairman of Indian Ex-Servicemen movement told reporters after the meeting.
He said it was conveyed to the Defence Minister that no junior should get more pension than senior and that there is nothing like Voluntary Retirement Service in defence forces. Sounding a conciliatory note, Singh said the government has accepted 60 per cent of the demands of the ex-servicemen. He, however, said the "bone of contention" -- revision of pension - still remains.
After the meeting Parrikar met BJP President Amit Shah. Later a BJP leader said all demands of the ex-servicemen have been accepted except the pension revision demand. BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, who was present at the party chief's house, said government is close to announcing a solution that will cost the exchequer at least Rs 10,000 crore.
The ex-servicemen have been demanding that the pension revision should take place at least in every two years while government has proposed a five-year revision. Singh said the ex-servicemen have conveyed to Parrikar that there is nothing like VRS in defence and that no junior should get more pension than senior.
It is understood that a draft proposal on OROP was circulated at a RSS meeting yesterday which envisaged commencement of the scheme from July 2014, besides revision of pension every five years.
According to the draft, the basis for the implementation of the scheme would be 2013 and arrears would be paid in four instalments. Close to 26 lakh retired servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be immediate beneficiaries of the scheme,
which envisages a uniform pension for the defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.
Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations of the time when he or she retired. So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws less pension than a Lt Colonel who retired after 1996