The three-member ministerial committee to look into grievances of the Armed Forces met for a round of discussions on Wednesday afternoon, but the matter remained inconclusive even as the deadline for a final report on the issue is approaching fast.
Sources said several permutations and combinations are being worked out, but more meetings would be required before a final decision can be taken on the matter. The committee, headed by External Affairs Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, met on Wednesday even as hectic rounds of consultations are on with the Armed Forces and other services.
The committee, set up by the Prime Minister, was given a deadline to prepare a final report for the Cabinet by the end of this month. The last round of consultations with the armed forces took place on Monday when the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, Admiral Sureesh Mehta met the ministers.
While the committee is leant to have agreed to the demand for restoring the pension given to Personnel Below Officers Rank (PBOR), discussions were on to resolve the other three issues put forward by the Armed Forces.
On the demand of moving Lt Gen and equivalent officers to the HAG plus pay band, solutions being worked out included a further categorisation of the officers to accommodate a proportion of them in the highest pay band.
The most contentious issue remains the demand to move Lieutenant Colonel level officers to Pay Band 4 in order to give them parity with their civilian counterparts. While the Armed Forces have dug in tight with the demand of moving Lieutenant Colonels and their equivalents be placed in Pay Band 4 (Rs 37,400-67,000) instead of the present Pay Band 3 (Rs 15,600-39,100), paramilitary forces and the MEA are insisting that changes will result in administrative problems. A solution under discussion is the creation of a new category in the Pay Band 4 to accommodate Lt Cols and give them parity with civilian counterparts without altering the monetary edge of non-defence services officers.
Source: The Indian Express (30-10-08)