Monday, September 07, 2015

Modi government announces OROP; says cost to exchequer estimated at Rs 8,000-10,000 crore

By PTI | 5 Sep, 2015, 03.16PM IST
NEW DELHI: Government today announced acceptance of the  long-pending demand for 'One Rank One Pension' but the ex-servicemen who have  been on agitation rejected the key details of the decision and said their 84-day  long stir will continue.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar announced here that the government has  decided to implement OROP under which  there would be revision of pension every five years as against two years  demanded by the ex-servicemen.

The base year would be calender year 2013 for  calculation of the OROP and it will be implemented from July 2014, Parrikar said  while making it clear that ex-servicemen who have taken voluntary retirement  would not be eligible for the scheme.

The government is also setting up  a one-member judicial committee to work out details of implementation of the  OROP which will file a report in six months, the Minister said.

Reacting to the announcement, leader of agitating ex-servicemen Maj Gen (retd)  Satbir Singh said while the veterans were satisfied with Government's intention  to implement the OROP, they made it clear that the proposed benefits were not  acceptable to them.

Rejecting the provisions for pension revision after  every five years and keeping those who take VRS out of the scheme among others,  Singh said, "According to us government has accepted one of our demands and  rejected six... at this point we cannot withdraw the agitation based on these details."

Top defence ministry sources said interest of those armed forces personnel who  had to take VRS due to injuries will be protected.

"OROP is a complex  issue. A thorough examination of interests of retirees of different periods and  different ranks is needed. The inter-service issues of the three forces also  require consideration. This is not an administrative matter alone," said  Parrikar while maintaining that the estimated cost to implement the scheme would be Rs  8,000-10,000 crore.

On arrears, he said they will be paid in four  half-yearly installments. However, all widows, including war widows, will be  paid arrears in one instalment.

Expressing dissatisfaction over  government's proposed benefits under OROP, Singh said, "We do not accept the  decisions not to give OROP benefits to those who have taken premature  retirement.

"We also disapprove setting up of one-member judicial committee."

Asserting that they needed  clarification on various issues, Singh said the agitation will continue and the  future course of action will be decided shortly.

Close to 26 lakh  retired servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be immediate
beneficiaries of the scheme.

The Defence Minister said Rs 10,000-12,000  crore would be required to pay arrears to the ex-servicemen.

"Pension will be re-fixed for all pensioners retiring in the  same rank and with the same length of service as the average of minimum and  maximum pension in 2013. Those drawing pensions above the average will be  protected," Parrikar said.

The three service chiefs and the Defence Secretary were also present at the  press conference where Parrikar read out a statement. The Defence Minister did  not take any question.

Defence Ministry sources said government will  come out with a detailed order on OROP within next one month.

Parrikar  said the government has held extensive consultations with experts and  ex-servicemen and decided to implement OROP despite the huge financial  burden.

"The previous government had estimated that OROP would be implemented with a  budget provision of mere Rs 500 crore. The reality, however, is that to  implement OROP, the estimated cost to exchequer would be Rs 8,000 to 10,000  crore at present and will increase further in future," Parrikar said.

The Defence Minister said the OROP issue was pending for nearly four decades and  though the previous UPA government had made an announcement to implement it in  2014-15, it had not specified what the scheme would be.

"It is a matter of deep anguish that  various governments remained ambivalent on the issue of OROP," he said.

The Defence Minister complimented the defence forces for their service to the  country.

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