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One Rank One Pension – Official Notification Issued – Dejected Veterans Reject it

One Rank One Pension – Official Notification Issued – “The Government Order by the Ministry of Defence, which could not be issued [earlier] because of the model code of conduct [for Bihar elections], has been issued today,” said a government statement.

The Centre tonight issued a notification bringing into force the one rank, one pension (Orop) scheme for retired soldiers, which will benefit over 25 lakh veterans and war widows.

“The Government Order by the Ministry of Defence, which could not be issued [earlier] because of the model code of conduct [for Bihar elections], has been issued today,” said a government statement.

Protesting ex-servicemen rejected the notification, saying their key demands had not been accepted and the government’s scheme amounted to “one rank, five pensions”.

The government seems to have stuck to the conditions announced by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in September. The veterans had rejected them then, and last weekend, announced plans to step up protests.

The content of the notification is similar to the announcements made by defence minister Manohar Parrikar on September 5.

The notification says “in future, the pension would be re-fixed every 5 years”. The ex-servicemen have been demanding more frequent revisions. They have argued that revision after every five years, which means five different pensions for the same rank, will not be in the spirit of the OROP.

Personnel who henceforth get discharged on their own request under Rule 13(3)1(i)(b),13(3)1(iv) or Rule 16B of the Army Rule 1954 or the equivalent Navy or Air Force Rules will not be entitled to OROP benefits, the government said. The ex-servicemen, however, want no distinction between retirees, and exclusion of such personnel will become a major point of friction.

The two sides had not reached a consensus on the concept of premature retirement. Earlier, the government stated that those opting for it would not be eligible for the OROP. After protests by ex-servicemen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said everyone was eligible. However, the notification said those opting for it in future would be out of the scheme.

Maj. Gen. (retd) Satbir Singh, the chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement that is spearheading the protest, said: “The notification will not be acceptable to the rank and file”.

“It is not one rank, one pension but one rank, five pensions,” he said.

Another key element of the notification is that armed forces personnel who opt to get discharged on their own request would henceforth not get Orop benefits.

The notification said arrears would be paid in four equal half-yearly instalments. However, family pensioners and gallantry award winners would be made the payment in a single instalment, it said.

A defence ministry statement said the UPA government had earmarked Rs 500 crore for the Orop scheme.

“The present government undertook the task earnestly and realised that the actual additional annual expenditure would be Rs 8,000 to 10,000 crore at present and will increase further in future,” the statement said.

The notification said the pension would be re-fixed on the basis of the average of the minimum and the maximum pension of personnel retiring in 2013 from the same rank and after the same length of service. The ex-servicemen had demanded that the maximum pension amount be taken into account.

The government has decided to appoint a judicial committee to look into anomalies, if any, in the implementation of Orop. The committee will submit its report in six months.

Source: The Hindu

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