OROP deadlock: Veterans say open to 2-yr revision

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Old 04-Sep-2015
Post OROP deadlock: Veterans say open to 2-yr revision

The government and protesting soldiers are inching closer to a final formula on the “one rank, one pension” (OROP) scheme. While some ground has been covered, gaps remain and possibility of the government “unilaterally” notifying the scheme on its own terms exists.
A group of ex-servicemen today met Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag and said they could agree to a biennial (once in two years) revision of pension. The tenure of revising pensions is a sticking point.
Major General Satbir Singh (retd) of the Indian Ex-servicemen Movement (IESM) said: “We want annual revision but can agree to a two-yearly revision. Anything beyond a two-yearly revision will not be acceptable. Let the government notify on its own. We will continue with our protest.”
The government during talks with the ex-servicemen had proposed that the hike in pensions — to make them equal for same rank and same length of service — would be done once in five years.
The government formula was listed out by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley earlier this week when he laid down a few ground rules for implementing OROP, a pre-poll promise made by the BJP.
He ruled out any annual pension revision. Sources say the government wants to tread a path that does not open a pandora’s box with similar demands from other services such as paramilitaries or the railways.
The system of equalising the pension is crucial since the OROP entails same pension for all those who retire in the same rank with equal length of service. The protesting ex-servicemen want OROP without dilution of the recommendations made by the Bhagat Singh Koshyari committee.
Koshyari, who headed the Rajya Sabha Petitions Committee, said in December 2011: “Uniform pension be paid to armed forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement, and any future enhancement in the rates of pension be automatically passed on to the old pensioners.” The government has told the protesters that the “unreasonable concessions” merely on emotions can prompt others to seek similar benefits.
“It will be colossal fiscal burden in case such a thing happens,” a source said. The government is likely to take last-minute decisions before the announcement of Bihar Assembly polls.

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