NEW DELHI, Sept 5 - Ex-servicemen, pressing for �One Rank One Pension� (OROP) for nearly four decades, today won a partial victory with the Government announcing that it would implement it, but the veterans rejected the decision and decided to continue their agitation.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told reporters here that OROP, that implies uniform pension for armed forces personnel retiring in the same rank with a same length of service, would be implemented from July 1, 2014 on the basis of the calendar year 2013.
The pension will be revised every five years and defence personnel who take voluntary retirement will not be covered, Parrikar said, adding that a one-member judicial committee would be constituted to report within six months after examining various aspects of the �complex issue.�
The arrears, estimated to cost between Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 12,000 crore, will be paid in four half-yearly instalments. However, all widows, including war widows, will be paid in one instalment.
Ex-servicemen, who have been on an agitation for the past 84 days, took no time in rejecting the Government�s announcement and declaring that they would continue the stir. They also announced a massive rally on September 12.
What has riled the ex-servicemen is the decision to review the pension every five years instead of two years. Another objection pertained to leaving out ex-servicemen who had gone for premature retirement.
Another sticking point is the setting up of a one-member judicial committee which will examine the interests of retirees of different periods and different ranks. It will also address inter-service issues. Instead, ex-servicemen want a committee with five members, including three of them, to report within 30 days.
Rejecting the Government�s announcement, Maj Gen (retd) Satbir Singh said, �The Government has only accepted one of our demands and rejected six. They have gone back on their promises. We have no option but to continue our agitation.�
Singh, who has been spearheading the agitation, accused the Government of �resorting to gimmicks� due to the upcoming Assembly polls in Bihar.
He said the hunger strike will be withdrawn if the Government gives the OROP benefit to those who have opted for premature retirement.
Top Defence Ministry sources said the interests of those armed forces personnel who had to take VRS due to injuries would be protected.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the Government�s proposed benefits under OROP, Singh said, �We do not accept the decisions not to give OROP benefits to those who have taken premature retirement.�
The Defence Minister said the cost to implement OROP would be Rs 8,000 crore to 10,000 crore and it will increase further.
�Despite the huge fiscal burden, given its commitment to the welfare of ex-servicemen, the Government has taken a decision to implement the OROP,� Parrikar said. Close to 26 lakh retired servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be the immediate beneficiaries of the scheme.
�The previous Government had estimated that OROP would be implemented with a budget provision of mere Rs 500 crore. The reality, however, is that to implement OROP, the estimated cost to the exchequer would be Rs 8,000 crore to Rs 10,000 crore at present and will increase further in future,� Parrikar said. � PTI