Government's OROP version not acceptable, says veteran
New Delhi, Sept 4: The government's alleged draft of the OROP is not acceptable to ex-servicemen demanding its immediate implementation, a key leader of the retired soldiers said on Friday.
The government has also not sent any formal communication to the veterans over the One Rank, One Pension scheme, Maj. Gen. Satbir Singh (retd.) told IANS at the Jantar Mantar protest site.
The reported government proposal on OROP is said to have 2013 as the base year for pension and July 2014 as the date of implementation. It offers a five-year time frame for review of pensions -- unacceptable to veterans.
Singh, however, said that there were problems with other details of the reported government's version of OROP.
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"If the base year of implementing the scheme is 2014, we will agree for July 2014 as date of implementation. But they can't take 2013 as base year and July 2014 as implementation date," the retired officer told IANS.
He also sought yearly review of pensions or a review every two years. A five-yearly review was not acceptable, he said.
"It will be One Rank, Five Pension then. We have agreed to two years, but we will not agree for even an hour more than that."
"If the government feels we are rigid, it is very sad. The soldiers give their life for the nation... Every day two or three soldiers are martyred. We are demanding payment for service we have already rendered."
The ex-servicemen, who have been trying to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said they had high hopes from the government but were totally disappointed.
"We took Modi and his assurances at face value."
Addressing the veterans at an election rally at Rewari in Haryana in September 2013, Modi promised to implement the OROP if the BJP took power after the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
"They were not expecting 280 seats in the Lok Sabha. They got it because of the support of soldiers. Soldiers are the opinion makers in villages. We are totally disappointed," Singh said.
Singh also blamed the bureaucracy for cheating the soldiers by decreasing pensions in 1973 at the time of the Third Pay Commission.
Until 1973, officers drew 50 percent of their last drawn monthly salary as pension while jawans and junior commissioned officers got 70 percent of salary as pension. The civil government employees got 33 percent.
"What existed before 1973 was something similar to OROP but it was not OROP.
"With the Third Pay Commission, they (bureaucrats) increased their own pension making it 50 percent of the last salary. According to that the pension of officers should have become 70 percent and of jawans 90 percent. But they increased their own pensions and reduced ours.
"The bureaucracy cheated and betrayed us. The government of the day also cheated us."
Asked if the ongoing agitation may affect the morale of the serving soldiers, Singh said: "That is the responsibility of the defence minister (Manohar Parrikar) and three services chiefs... But yes the defence fraternity is annoyed. The manner in which the government is treating us, it is downgrading the forces."
Singh said they were ready for a dialogue and ready to consider offers by the government but there was no formal dialogue.
"We met Nripendra Misra (principal secretary in PMO) twice... You even talk to terrorists, but not to us?"
Asked about the reported formation of a commission to handle unresolved issues of OROP, Singh rejected it.
With OROP, retired personnel would draw the same pension as officers and jawans of the same rank who are retiring now.
Currently, pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations at the time when they retired.
This leads to a difference in pension for officers of the same rank who retire on different dates.