While the PM Narendra Modi-led NDA government has cleared the One Rank One pension (OROP) scheme and FM Arun Jaitley has indicated how Centre is looking to ensure its smooth passage through the corridors of power, there are many for whom the scheme is not going far enough. They want certain points to be inserted and then only should OROP be implemented. OROP is a uniform pension to be paid to the armed forces personnel retiring at the same rank after the same length of service, regardless of their date of retirement. The government has announced that these benefits would be applicable from July 1, 2014, with arrears to be paid in four half-yearly installments, and pensions will be revised every five years. Besides the estimated one-time outgo on OROP of Rs 10,000-12,000 crore on pension arrears, the recurring annual additional cost is expected to be Rs 8,000-10,000 crore. The government came out with a notification on OROP on November 7 for over 25 lakh ex-servicemen and war widows but the veterans still remain unsatisfied. Here are the top 10 points that have generated controversy and led many to threaten to launch a renewed agitation:
1. Protesting veterans say, “We reject the notification as it is one of the seven anomalies pointed out by us to government after issue of notification on OROP and repeatedly thereafter”.
2. They said that their recommendations on an inescapable commission, if at all, should be multi-member has been discarded.
3. “Paragraph one of the commission notification says it will consider “Govt references” only. Thus leaving the veterans high and dry. Also by doing so the door kept open with a mediator in the form of Gen (Retd) V K Singh has been shut on our face too,” they said.
4. They says the way forward is to approach the Supreme Court which would be taken procedurally as per the advise of their counsel Ram Jethmalani very shortly.
5. While they are looking at the legal approach to get OROP to reflect their concerns, veterans have said, “Notwithstanding the legal option, the agitation will be intensified across the country.”
6. Protesting veterans have threatened to intensify the protest if their demands were not met by the Centre within three weeks even as they decided to not vote for BJP in the upcoming assembly elections.
7. OROP principle is in perpetuity and cannot be fiddled with, they contended.
8. They had objected to the judicial commission saying that it should have representatives from both government as well as the veterans.
9. They had also demanded a fixed time period of one month rather than six months for the Committee to submit its report.
10. Veterans want OROP implementation date to start from April 1, 2014 and not July 1, 2014 as in the government notification.