NEW DELHI:The Union government is expected to make an announcement on the implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme for defence veterans and widows of soldiers by Monday, according to government sources. But agitating ex-servicemen have threatened to intensify their protest if any unilateral announcement is made which does not meet their long-standing demand.
In this regard, the government has prepared a draft note under which the date of implementation of the scheme will be July 1, 2014 and the base year will be 2013. However, the veterans have been demanding that the scheme be implemented from April 1, 2014. Moreover, as per the draft note, the basis for the implementation of the scheme would be 2013 and arrears would be paid in four installments.
While the number of military veterans is over 24.25 lakh, there are nearly 6 lakh widows, too, who are entitled to a lifetime pension. The current pension of defence forces is Rs 54,000 crore and it will increase to Rs 75,000 crore after OROP is implemented.
It is understood that the draft proposal on OROP was circulated at the RSS meeting in the national capital which envisaged commencement of the scheme from July 2014, besides revision of pension every five years. BJP president Amit Shah too said Friday that the government will soon implement the OROP scheme. Briefing reporters on the RSS’ coordination meeting, where the issue of OROP also figured, Sangh spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya said the BJP president was of the view that it will be done quickly. “BJP chief Shah said OROP will be implemented soon,” Vaidya said.
Reacting to the proposal, the ex-servicemen threatened to intensify their stir if the government made any unilateral announcement regarding implementation of the OROP which is not in consonance with the terms and conditions set by them. “There are reports that the government may soon unilaterally declare the implementation of OROP. If it is as per our terms and conditions, then we will welcome it and thank the government. If not, the unilateral declaration is unacceptable to us. We will intensify our protests,” said Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd), Chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement. The ex-servicemen, whose stir entered 82nd day on Friday, said they will not accept review of the pension after every five years. They maintain that the entire definition of OROP changes if the review takes place every five years.
“The ex-servicemen have been asking for annual revision of pension but we are also ready to settle for biennial revision. But not beyond that,” he said. Singh said OROP should be implemented from March 31, 2014 and they will not accept if it is done from July, 2014. He claimed the government has to only spend Rs 30 crore for six-consecutive years for “equalisation of pension”.
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