Friday, August 28, 2015
OROP _ Two more veterans on fast taken to hospital
NEW DELHI: Two more ex-servicemen on fast-unto-death were hospitalized on Thursday, even as the government and military veterans held another round of hectic negotiations to narrow their differences over the one rank, one pension (OROP) imbroglio.
The deadlock persisted despite efforts to end the impasse ahead of the golden jubilee celebrations of the 1965 war which kick off on Friday. After representatives of the veterans met Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag till late in the night, Major General (retd) Satbir Singh said they were yet to get any message from PM Narendra Modi's office. "We might meet defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday," he said.
Earlier in the day, Major (retd) Pyar Chand and Havildar (retd) Saheb Singh were rushed to Army (R&R) Hospital after their condition deteriorated, which now takes the number of veterans hospitalized to four. Six other veterans are undertaking the fast-unto-death at their dharna site at Jantar Mantar, where the ex-servicemen have been protesting for the last 75 days.
The PM's principal secretary Nripendra Misra has held a couple of rounds of talks with the veterans in a bid to resolve the deadlock but to no avail.
As reported by TOI earlier, the veterans want OROP implementation from April 2014, as was earlier promised to them, but the government has proposed January 2015 as the rollout date. The veterans also want 2014 to be taken as the base year for fixation of their pensions, while the government is proposing that it be 2011. And three, the government is ruling out 3% yearly increment in pension.
The OROP entails payment of uniform pension to military personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement. Plus, any further enhancement in pension rates should be automatically passed on to past pensioners.
This will mean an additional annual cost of at least Rs 8,300 crore as pension for the over 25 lakh veterans in the country. Taking it into account from April last year, it adds up to at least Rs 16,600 crore, ahead of implementation of the 7th Pay Commission from 2016, as reported by TOI earlier.