KINNAUR/NEW DELHI, Oct 30 - Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said Rs 5,500 crore has been paid for implementing the OROP scheme, an issue that has been hanging fire for the last 40 years, even as he lauded the valour and sacrifice of the armed forces amid tension on the border with Pakistan.
Dedicating this Diwali to the armed forces personnel, the Prime Minister said he has �fulfilled the promise� he made to ex-servicemen on the one-rank-one-pension scheme. Modi said the issue had been pending for �40 years� as certain people in the previous governments �did not know� about OROP, and therefore �only Rs 500 crore was allocated� for the purpose.
�The OROP was not about just Rs 200 crore or Rs 500 crore, but Rs 10,000 crore... After I became the Prime Minister, and decided that I had to do (implement) it, the entire government lost sleep over it... It was not possible for the government to pay in one go, so I requested the ex-servicemen to accept it in four instalments,� he said.
�The money will reach them in four instalments. Nearly, Rs 5,500 crore has been paid as the first instalment,� Modi said, adding, many people thought that if the scheme was not implemented, a section of �ex-servicemen would turn against the government.�
He made these remarks while celebrating Diwali with Army and ITBP men in Sumdo in Himachal Pradesh�s Kinnaur district.
Earlier, in his monthly �Mann ki Baat� programme on All India Radio, Modi asked the people and the state governments to find ways of forging unity across the country and work to defeat separatist tendencies and mentalities.
He hailed the people including celebrities for sending overwhelming messages to his �Sandesh2Soldiers� campaign.
In the wake of ongoing unrest in Kashmir Valley, he said, �Unity in diversity is our strength. It is the responsibility of every citizen and all governments to forge unity and curb separatist tendencies to save the country.�
In an apparent reference to tension on the Indo-Pak border, Modi credited the soldiers for maintenance of peace and security in the country and called upon everyone to remember their gallantry while celebrating Diwali.
�In the wake of recent events, our soldiers have been sacrificing their everything for the safety and security of the country. Their dedication and labour has overwhelmed me completely. Let us dedicate this Diwali to our armed forces,� he added.
The Prime Minister, while on his way back from Sumdo, met civilians at Himachal�s Chango village, close to the Sino-Indian border. He exchanged greetings, interacted with the people there, and offered sweets to children.
Modi also met personnel of the General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF), a branch of Border Roads Organisation (BRO), entrusted with construction and maintenance of border roads and also executing the Rohtang Tunnel project.
After coming to power in 2014, Modi had celebrated his first Diwali with soldiers posted in Siachen, and in 2015, he celebrated it at the India-Pakistan border in Punjab. � PTI