Prime Minister Narendra Modi lent a firm assurance on the issue of OROP during his Independence Day address. The issue of ‘One Rank, One Pension’ (OROP) has been pending for long with talks between the armed forces veterans and the incumbent government yet to result in its roll-out. The matter took further proportions on Friday after Delhi police and civic authorities attempted to evict the protesting war veterans from Jantar Mantar, a designated venue for the protest in the capital.
“In-principle this govt has accepted ‘One-rank, One Pension (OROP)” said the Prime Minister from the Red Fort.
However, he kept away from announcing any date of its roll-out, though he added, “we will have good news on basis of the ongoing talks”.
But the protesting ex-servicemen expressed their disappointment over yet another delay in its roll-out.
“I am sorry, principle was accepted 17 months ago and he has also accepted it. I want to ask the Prime Minister, what is holding the implementation of OROP,” questioned Maj Gen Satbir Singh (Retd), Chairman of Indian Ex-Servicemen movement.
A group of ex-servicemen has been staging a relay hunger strike at Jantar Mantar for more than two months now.
“We want the OROP without any dilution. What talks, when and how long? Where is Gen VK Singh, where is CoL Rathore? Why haven’t they resigned?” said Deepa Nebb, daughter and wife of a retired defence personnel.
The matter is slowly morphing into an emotive issue with protesting ex-servicemen demanding for its roll-out but the BJP-led NDA government buying more time for it implementation claiming “technical difficulties”.
“We will fulfil the assurances that we have given in this regard… When we have said this, the government has to do it within its tenure and we will do it quite early. We are bound by our assurance. We will comply with our assurance,” Union Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar had told the press on Friday
Earlier, four former service chiefs had submitted an open letter to their Supreme Commander President Pranab Mukherjee requesting his intervention into the lingering matter. The former service chiefs, in their open letter, said that the denial of OROP may have larger ramifications as the delay in its roll-out has already tested “veterans’ patience”.
“It is with a sense of deep anguish that we are writing to draw the attention of the Supreme Commander to the dismal spectacle of our veteran soldiers, driven to undertake public protests and demonstrations to press their demand for the long overdue grant of OROP,” said the letter written by General SF Rodrigues (Retd), Admiral L Ramdas (Retd), Admiral Arun Prakash (Retd) and Admiral Sureesh Mehta (Retd).
The issue of OROP assumes political dimensions for the incumbent government as PM Narendra Modi had made its implementation among his key agendas while campaigning for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. And after taking over as the Prime Minister, Mr. Modi had even assured ex-servicemen on his radio talk show ‘Mann ki Baat’ that his government would soon implement the OROP policy.
The policy of OROP, if implemented, will enable a uniform pension for the defence personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement. Close to 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be the immediate beneficiaries of the scheme.
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 a lower pension than a Lieutenant Colonel who retired after 1996.
(With inputs from the PTI)