Claiming that the issue of One Rank One Pension, or OROP, has been pending for four decades or 40 years, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said his government is ready to implement the same despite the huge financial burden.
He said the previous UPA government had in February 2014 allocated only Rs 500 crore for OROP, but did not specify what it would constitute. According to him, the implementation of OROP will cost the exchequer Rs 8,000-10,000 crore.
The minister further said the expenditure in arrears alone would cost around Rs 10,000-12,000 crore. These arrears will be paid in four instalments (half-yearly), while all widows, including war widows, will be paid arrears in one instalment.
One Rank One Pension will be effective from July 1, 2014, while the base year will be 2013. Pension will be revised every five years, he said.
He further added that the defence ministry will issue a detailed order on OROP shortly and a one member committee will be formed within the next few days.
However, in a big setback to ex-servicemen, Parrikar said voluntary retired (VRS) servicemen will not be considered for OROP.
This, however, did not go down well with the ex-service men and retired Major General Satbir Singh said while we accept the implementation decision, we are unhappy with a number of issues. “We do not accept the decision not to give OROP benefits to those who have taken voluntary retirement,” he said.
Singh also did not approve of setting up of one-member judicial committee. He said it should be under the defence minister and should not take more than one month. According to him, the government has only accepted one of their demands while rejecting six.
Singh also claimed that the veterans will not withdraw the agitation, and are very unhappy with the government’s decision to revise pension every five years. He also said there needs to be further clarity on issues like pre-mature retirement benefits and averaging of pension.
The agitating ex-servicemen will decide on the future course of action in response to defence ministry announcement shortly.