The Centre on Saturday evening cleared notification on the long-pending ‘One-Rank- One-Pension Scheme’ for the ex-servicemen. According to the Central government, over 25 lakh veterans and war widows will benefit with the scheme coming into force. OROP was one of the main issues raised by the BJP during its campaign for 2014 general elections. However, the protesting ex-servicemen rejected the notification, saying their main demands have not been accepted.
The government has seen a long protest over the issue with war veterans staging protest at Jantar Mantar demanding the policy to be announced. Though the BJP-led NDA government had announced the policy early in September this year, the notification was awaited.
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.
On the other hand, 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 shared on the micro-blogging site Twitter soon after the notification was brought.
“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,” a statement by the Union Defence ministry said.
“Notwithstanding the financial constraints, true to its commitment, the present government has issued the government order to implement the OROP in true spirit,” the statement added.
The notification further said that 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 arrears will be paid in four equal half yearly instalments, said the notification. 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 also 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.
(With inputs from the PTI)