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Your predecessor Mr AK Antony had held a meeting of MOD and Service HQ officials on 24 Feb 14 soon after the announcement on OROP by the old FM. I laern that he had exhorted the bureaucrats to be gracious in working out the entitlements, but nothing happened for two months till the Service Chiefs reminded the RM about it. He then had a second meeting on 22 Apr 14 and directed the MOD officers to get the implementation letter out for payment of OROP to soldiers, within 3 weeks. However, secretary DESW called a meeting on 25 Apr 14 and constituted a committee to produce a DGL, even though the Services had already prepared a DGL. However, we learn that the bureaucracy started nit picking in it saying that it had to work out the financial implications. After one or two meetings there has been an impasse for the last three months.
One fails to understand as to what are the hurdles in resolving this issue when;
a) The definition of OROP has been clarified by an all party Commission headed by Mr Koshiyari.
b) The out going FM had clarified that Rs 500 crs was only a token and additional funds will not be a problem.
c) The Prime Minister had assured and clearly stated on board INS Vikramaditya that your government is committed to OROP and it will be implemented soon.
Is the mental block in the bureaucracy so strong that they cannot appreciate the reasons why over the years successive Defence Consultative Committees have recommended the implementation of OROP for the Defence Services? Mr Minister, the soldiers have always been there to help the country out when required. People have forgotten that soldiers surrendered 5% of their rations for well over a decade when the nation was importing food in huge quantities. They have never questioned when they had to go to battle under the most adverse conditions at risk of their lives, while other civil services have been feathering their beds. Why is it that something accepted by the government and the politicians at large does not go down the throats of our civilian colleagues. If they can upgrade their appointments ad lib and grant themselves increases in pay (NFU) and pensions, why do the finance secretaries and the CGDAs think of closing the national coffers when there is something due to the soldiers, be it rank pay, disability pay/pension, pensions as per AI, AFI and NI 2/S/2008 and now OROP. They do it blatantly despite Supreme Court orders ruling in the soldiers' favour. The DESW is even willing to re employ a known ESM baiter and pay his salary out of welfare funds meant for soldiers. Is it not ironical?
Mr Minister, I know you have been in the chair for just over 6 weeks and have been busy with the formulation of your first national budget, a very important function for a Finance minister. We are also aware that for the last 6 days you have been explaining the nuances of your budget to the corporates and other affected people. I think it is now time for you to devote time to the other ministry under your charge and assure the serving and retired soldiers that you will not be lead by the entrenched bureaucracy into disappointing the soldiers. May I request you to make an announcement that the DGL produced by the Service HQ will be implemented in toto, without delay. The ESM are apprehensive that there is a likelihood of they being betrayed again by the civil servants who seem to have an axe to grind with them. Please do not let the ESM believe that their faith in the political system is misplaced. The common refrain amongst the ESM is that the MOD will delay, if not totally deny (The Empire Strikes Back!), their dues as they have been able to even disregard judgements of the Supreme Court for 4 long years. Sir, you have to disabuse the minds of the ESM by making a categorical statement that 1) there will be no dilution in the definition of OROP, 2) funds for making the payments will be fully available and not left to the duplicity of the CGDA/Finance Secretary etc. As an ex ADG (Fin Plg) at Army HQ I know that there is a term called RE, when funds are reallocated to make up shortfall in some areas from surpluses in other areas. So, though a number of articles in the press are bemoaning the inadequacy of funds allocated by you we are aware that you have the means to rectify such financial situations.
May I remind you Sir that the ESM is a diminishing community and so it may not be able to wait endlessly for its dues for which the present government, and the last one in its dying days, are committed to.
With warm regards
Lt Gen SK Bahri PVSM (Retd)
Alliance Of Ex Servicemen Organisations
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