The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah today said the government will soon implement ‘One Rank, One Pension’ scheme even as agitating ex-servicemen threatened to intensify their protest if any unilateral announcement is made which does not meet their long-standing demand.
Briefing reporters on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (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.
It is understood that a draft proposal on OROP was circulated at the RSS meeting which envisaged commencement of the scheme from July 2014, besides revision of pension every five years.
According to the draft, the basis for the implementation of the scheme would be 2013 and arrears would be paid in four instalments.
Reacting to the proposal, the ex-servicemen threatened to intensify their stir if the government makes any unilateral announcement regarding implementation of OROP which is not in consonance with the terms and conditions set by the defence veterans.
“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, then the unilateral declaration is unacceptable to us. We will intensify our protests,” said Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd), Chairman of Indian Ex-Servicemen movement.
The ex-servicemen, whose stir entered 82nd day today, said they will not accept review of the pension after every five years.
“The entire definition of One Rank, One Pension changes if the review takes place every five years,” said an agitating ex-serviceman.
“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 the 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”.
“If the government can spend Rs 60 crore on giving subsidy to Parliament canteen, then I have nothing to say,” he said.
The OROP has been stuck for a while despite hectic back channel talks between the government and the veterans.
Col (Retd) Anil Kaul, media adviser to the United Front of Ex-Servicemen, said that cost of implementing OROP will come to around Rs 8,294 crore. The figure, he said, has been worked out by “three service pay cells and figures estimated by the Ministry of Defence.”
Close to 26 lakh retired servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for the defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.
Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations of the time when he or she retired. So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws less pension than a Lt Colonel who retired after 1996.