One Rank One Pension granted to Armed Forces Pensioners – OROP to be reviewed once in every five years and New Pension to be fixed with 2013 as base year
The government on Saturday announced the implementation of the long-awaited OROP scheme assuring an equal pension to three million military personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, regardless of the date of retirement.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar announced the one rank, one pension scheme during a press conference.
Earlier in the day, veterans, who had been holding protests across the country for 82 days, met Parrikar and said the defence minister had assured them that the government has broadly accepted the concept of OROP.
They had reiterated their stand that they will not accept any unilateral move by the government and said that its reported plans to exclude ex-servicemen who had opted for VRS from OROPscheme was not acceptable to them.
The government announced its decision to remove disparities in pensions of veterans by effecting a revision every five years. After protracted negotiations with ex-servicemen failed to iron out differences, the government issued orders for the implementation of the one rank, one pension scheme from July 1, 2014.
New pensions would be fixed with 2013 as the base year and “discrepancy between the present and previous pensioners” settled every five years, sources said.
The government would constitute a single-member judicial committee to look into various aspects of OROP including inter-services matters. It will submit its report in six months.
The government’s calculations show that the annual payout towards implementing OROP would be in the range of Rs 8,000 crore to Rs 10,000 crore, with the figures spiralling upwards in the coming years. Also, sources said, arrears would amount to anywhere between Rs 10,000 crore and Rs 12,000 crore.
While widows will get arrears in lump-sum, others will be paid in four half-yearly installments. Army personnel who have taken voluntary retirement will not be covered under OROP.
The government today announced the implementation of the long-awaited One Rank One Pension or OROP which was rejected by military veterans who have vowed to continue their protest.
Here are the latest developments:
- “Despite the huge fiscal burden, given its commitment to the welfare of ex-servicemen, Government has decided to implement OROP,” the Defence Minister said at a press conference attended by the three service chiefs.
- The scheme will be effective from July 1, 2014 with arrears that will be paid in four half-yearly installments. The base year for calculating the arrears has been fixed at 2013.
- The estimated cost to implement OROP would be Rs. 8000-10,000 crore at present and will increase further in future, Mr Parrikar said.
- But the government will stick to a revision of pension every five years and not the one, or maximum two years as demanded by the veterans.
- That is not acceptable, the veterans had earlier said. Another key demand to not exclude ex-servicemen who opted for voluntary retirement from OROP benefits has not been included in the announcement.
- “Our main proposal is that a senior should not get pension less than a junior. We will wait for full plan of government and then come with a calibrated response,” Major Gen (retd.) Singh had said earlier today.
- The lowest-ranking retired jawans, widows and the disabled are likely to accrue the maximum benefit from the announcement, sources say. Widows and ex-servicemen over 70 are likely to be paid first. With the current proposal, jawans will get a pension hike of at least 3,500 to 4,500 a month, say sources.
- Since there are many cases of veterans of the same rank earning different pensions, the government proposes to take the average of the maximum and minimum pension paid per rank, while protecting those who earn above average pensions in their rank.
- The veterans and the government have been involved in negotiations for months now. The Prime Minister’s Office stepped in last month after the strike escalated into a hunger-strike.
- OROP was a key promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was campaigning for last year’s national election. OROP will give the same pension to ex-servicemen who retired many years ago as that which soldiers of the same rank retiring now draw. The scheme will benefit three million veterans.