NEW DELHI: After nearly 11-weeks of relentless agitation, the Core Group negotiating on the One Rank One Pension (OROP) formula for ex-servicemen has been given a two-phase implementation proposal.
The suggestion is being considered even as Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley ruled out the veterans’ demand for monthly or annual revision of the OROP, and the Election Commission is getting ready to issue the notification for the Bihar Assembly elections in a few days’ time.
Once the pre-Diwali elections for Bihar are announced by the EC, the Model Code of Conduct will come in the way of any government announcement, including the OROP. A special permission from the poll panel is unlikely to come as there is a sizeable number of veterans, especially from the lower ranks, who hail from Bihar.
Unless the veterans agree, it would be a no-gain from their agitation. Sources say the one-time, phased implementation of the OROP appears to be the only way out. In the first phase, it has been proposed that the OROP could be rolled out for retired JCOs and widows, which will have its political emotional resonance, and in the second-phase for the seniors up to the level of Brigadiers. Ranks above that are not under consideration and they are also less in number.
There’s also a technical problem, the records of all retired Commanding Officers(CO) and above have been computerised, therefore calculating the disbursement once it is agreed upon, would not be an issue. It is not the same for the millions of retired Armed Forces personnel below the rank of COs and that poses a major hurdle for the Ministry of Finance which has to earmark the funds.
However, sources involved in the back-channel negotiations say the government is ready for a one-time settlement with a promise of periodic reviews on the lines of the Pay Commission or decadal review of pension. This is exactly where the OROP issue got stuck during the UPA Government’s tenure.
Jaitley’s remarks hurt Protesters
New Delhi: Expressing “anguish” at Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s remarks that the annual revision of pension under OROP scheme was not possible, the agitating ex-servicemen on Tuesday said his comment was due to the lack of understanding of the issue. “It seems that Jaitley has no knowledge of the issue. I dare say, if he wants to understand the issue, I can explain it to him. He has never understood the issue because of which he made the statement,” Maj Gen (retd) Satbir Singh said.