Wednesday, September 10, 2014
25th SCOVA MEETING (See emphasis in RED) :For those taking keen interest in pension matters. A long read.
The Department of Pensions, Personal & training colloquially called the DPOT is the Policy making body for Pensions in the Central Govt. Twice a year, they invite Pensioner Organisations for a meeting to listen and take measures to resolve grievances of Pensioners. These organisations send in their Agenda they are desirous to discuss and out of those issues, some are brought out in the meeting. The rest are sent to the parent ministry for comments. These are also followed up. Issues general to all are normally taken up. The meeting is chaired by the MOS in charge and present are the Secretary and his directly concerned JS, Director Pensions and other staff. Also attending are officials from the Postal Department, Railways, Telecommunications, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of defence. The Pension Paying authorities like the CPAO and CGDA are also present. From the Defence Ministry, Mr CR Saini, Dy Secy ESW was present along with the JtCGDA. Mr MM Khanna, Dy Director PS 5 and Mrs Manju Jingra DDGPS (C) were present as observers.
The Meeting was chaired by Dr Jitendra Singh the MOS. At the outset, he declared that he was in the process of streamlining procedures and reducing delays. The department was now able to reply within two days. He indicated that there were three types of pensioners. The very senior old ones, the otherwise retired pensioners and those that were nearing superannuation. Procedures were being developed for all three categories.
Prior to discussions on the Agenda, the MOS sought general views of the Pensioner Organisations. The undersigned brought out to the Minister that unlike the DPOT, the ESW organisation was totally DYSFUNCTIONAL and worked against the Veteran Community and were anything BUT providing welfare or solace to Veterans. They did not believe in proactive approach of consultation with Pensioner Organisations and decided on various issues without any discussions of the organisations concerned. This was reiterated by Gp Capt Sethi of the AFA League.The MOS directed the representative of ESW to bring this to the notice of Secy ESW and hold consultative meetings quarterly with the recognized Veteran organisations and be more proactive. He added that he himself was a service Veteran.
AGENDA ISSUES as concerning DEFENCE PERSONNEL
PPO'S : 1.Serial 1(e) was concerning the issue of PPO's by CGDA. They had indicated that out of a figure of 18.5 lacs pre-2006 pensioners, they had revised PPO's of 14.11 lacs defence pensioners and 2.11 lacs defence civillian pensioners. PPO's yet to be revised according to them were 85000.
Both Gp Capt Sethi, AFA League and the undersigned informed the Chairman that these figures seemed incorrect as the number of queries received for revision of PPO's were considerable.
LOK ADALATS : The other issue was of holding LOK ADALATS for Veterans. CGDA declared that they had held one for two days in Dec 2010, one in Missamari also for two days in 2013 and one was proposed in October 2014. Since holding of LOK ADALATS assisted in bringing down unnecessary litigation, it was proposed that instead of only sticking the big city venues,the CGDA should consider holding some in the hinterlands like the upper reaches of uttrakhand, Himachal, Kathua and Ladakh in J&K and such areas as well. They were advised to increase the frequency and coverage of these LOK ADALATS.
BROAD BANDING OF DISABILITY ELEMENT OF PRE-96 CASES : The MOS was informed by the representative of the Dept of Expenditure Min of Fin that the sanctioned file had been returned to the MoD. He was informed by us that the said file was with MoD for the last three weeks and orders were yet to be issued. A case that related to the sanction of broad banding since 2001 with MoD sitting on the file till it was brought to the notice of the then Secy ESW (Mrs Neelam Nath) and the process to issue the orders had already taken another 4 years since our bringing it to the notice of Secy ESW.
The MOS was informed by the Deputy Secy ESW, present, that the file had been sent to the Minister for approval of the DGL and the orders were likely to be issued in the following week.
HEALTH SCHEME FOR PENSIONERS INCLUDING THOSE RESIDING IN NON_CGHS AREAS
Since this mainly concerned those covered for CGHS but some civilian defence employees not covered under the scheme would be required to be covered, we requested that Dehra Dun and other areas of defence related destinations be covered. This was noted.
DEDICATED DAY FOR PENSIONERS TO MEET SECY ESW : During the previous 24th SCOVA meeting, a point had been mooted that a dedicated day should be made available for Veterans to meet and resolve their issues. The Secy ESW reply to this direction was, in our opinion not only of poor taste but totally negative. We indicated as such.
The Secy ESW, in their reply indicated that the office of PCDA (P) Allahabad is the nodal office for resolving individual cases and therefore defence pensioners need to visit PCDA (P) to resolve issues. They further indicated that visiting ESW was not feasible as they were located in a restricted area.
They further mentioned that the Secy/Jt Secy were meeting Veterans and resolving issues.
Gp Capt Sethi, indicated that this was not acceptable and they did not consider it feasible for Veterans to visit different areas to resolve issues. The undersigned informed the chair that the secy ESW never called meetings of ESM's nor were they proactive in resolving issues and further were not communicative about any progress on various issues. This led to disillusionment and court cases. Examples of the quarterly meetings organised at the time of Mrs Neelam Nath were mentioned and on this it was ruled that the Secy ESW should become more pro-active and ensure quarterly meetings be called inviting ESM's to discuss and resolve issues together with other departments just as in DPOT. This was agreed to by Mr CR Saini Dy Secy.
STEPPING UP OF DISABILITY ELEMENT ON THE BASIS OF FITMENT TABLES : Pursuant to recommendations of the Committee of Secretaries, Deptt of ESW issued orders on 17.1.2013 stepping up service and family pension of pre-2006 pensioners by determining it with reference to 'minimum of the fitment table for the rank in revised pay structure issued for implementation of recommendations of sixth CPC instead of minimum of pay band. This was followed by a similar order dated 27.1.2013 by DoPPW.'
As disability element/war injury element of pre-2006 disabled Veterans is also fixed as a percentage of 'minimum of the pay in the Pay Band + + it also needs to be revised with reference to the fitment tables.
Since then the D0PPW in respect of civil pensioners has examined the proposal with draft OM and the same has been approved by the Department of Expenditure.
The Department of ESW indicated that the file had been moved to Defence Expenditure and hopefully will be forwarded by them to Department of expenditure min of finance. The representative of department of expenditure indicated that if the file reached him, the sanction would be accorded within the week since civilians had received the same.
We informed the Chair that the Secy ESW department would not give to file no or diary number and therefore did not believe that the file had moved. Mr Saini informed the chair that the file had moved in late August and was told to get it expedited.
Consequent to the meeting, Mr Saini informed the undersigned the the dept of ESW should now be believed and they will work to the betterment of Veterans. Mr Harbans Singh would be leaving on and Mrs Malathi Narayanan had already left. He assured the undersigned of better relations.
Please circulate to others as well.
SPECIAL FAMILY PENSION FOR WIDOWS OF DISABLED WAR VETERANS INVALIDED OUT OF SERVICE
The Secy ESW had replied to the proposal that after due consideration and consultation with Dept of Expenditure, office of CGDA and min of def (Fin) they found the proposal not possibe and were closing the matter.
The undersigned informed the chair that the ESW department had wrongly considered the proposal taking into consideration of widows of all Disabled veterans whereas the proposal was only for the WAR DISABLED VETERANS INVALIDED OUT OF SERVICE which were only 3000 in number. The Chair was informed that the proposal should have been discussed with the "Disabled war Veterans" to understand the issue involved and this was just an example of their closed system of working. At this, the CHAIR ordered the representative of the ESW that the case should not be closed and reopened. Consultations with DIWAVE should be invited so that a proper prospective is understood.
Similar proposal has been placed by DPOT to their own concerned Ministries.
Col H N Handa
President, Disabled War Veteran's (India)
B6/6 DLF City, Phase 1,