New Delhi, Jun 23: About 70 ex-servicemen today sat on a dharna at Jantar Mantar here against the delay in implementation of the 'One Rank, One Pension' scheme even as the relay-hunger strike by retired soldiers on the issue entered its ninth day.
The ex-servicemen demanded that the government fulfil the promises made with regard to implementation of the long- pending OROP scheme.
The former soldiers wore black bands on their arms while Sikh ex-servicemen even wore black bands on their turban.
"We served the nation with all our heart, but when today we are having a hard time living on our meagre pension, the government is not hearing our grievances," Durga Dutta, who served in the Punjab regiment for 24 years, said.
Shiv Kumar Rana, a retired havildar who had served in the Kumaon regiment and works as a private security guard now, said it is difficult to manage with a pension of just Rs 15,000.
Retired Havildar Gurjant Singh from Sangrur in Punjab said, "A jawan's pension is very little. But it becomes more difficult for a widow because first the pension is even less and more importantly she has to run the family on her own as she doesn't have the support of her husband."
The Narendra Modi government has said it was committed to OROP, a key promise made during Lok Sabha polls.
It is, however, yet to implement the scheme. Around 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be the immediate beneficiaries of the OROP scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.
Currently, the pension for ex-servicemen is based on the recommendations of the Pay Commission of that time when they had retired.
So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws a lower pension than a Lieutenant Colonel who retired after 1996.
However, the real crisis lies in the ranks below the officers as their pension is very low. There is a possibility that the government might extend OROP to non-officers first.