“The bulk of the Rs 10,000 crore of OROP will be for the jawans and soldiers who have served 15 years for this country . Don't be misled.There is no pay commission that has been set up. It is only a judicial commission to address any shortcomings, to see if any small changes are needed,“ he said at the meeting where he was greeted on stage by several retired armed forces personnel, many of whom presented flowers to the PM.
Sharply targeting Congress, Modi asked, “Do those who did nothing for 40 years have the right to speak on be half of jawans“, getting the crowd to shout a loud “no“ in response. Referring to UPA's interim budget before the 2014 election, he said, “Those who allocated Rs 500 crore could not understand the issue. They only misled you and committed sins. They want to score political points... One-upmanship will not help the nation.“
Addressing a large and responsive crowd, Modi said he began his campaign as BJP's PM candidate in September 2013 at nearby Rewari promising he would implement OROP. “After I became PM, I realized this is a complicated matter. I have separated it strand by strand to reach a solution. It was pending for over four decades. Everyone paid lip sympathy but no justice was done,“ he said. The PM urged exservicemen to allow a committee proposed along with the OROP award to resolve pending issues. “If there are some shortcomings, allow the committee to examine the issues,“ he said.
Looking to strike a chord with his Haryana audience, he said one in 10 armed force personnel hailed from the state and enhanced pension benefits will be a major economic boost.Emphasizing his personal involvement, he said he closely monitored the OROP issue and realized the Rs 300 crore mentioned by a parliamentary committee or Rs 500 crore by the previous government were to tally inadequate.
Perhaps seeking to drive home the quantum of benefits being offered to ex-servicemen, he said, “This is not just a matter of Rs 300 crore or so... The payments will amount to around Rs 8,000-10,000 crore.“
The PM's politically significant comments come a day after the government announced the OROP package after months of tough negotiations during which ex-servicemen staged a dharna and went on indefinite fast. His strong defence of the decision, appeal to ex-servicemen to accept the award and counterattack against Congress were intended to defuse an issue that had become a political hot potato for the government. His forceful intervention seemed to have had its effects with the ex-servicemen significantly scaling down their protests.
Now, Govt to tackle AI pilots' OROP issue
New Delhi: After solving ex-servicemen's one rank, one pension (OROP) issue, the government will now turn its attention to the OROP demand of Air India pilots. AI chairman Ashwani Lohani, who took over last Monday, has held several meeting with pilots and assured them of resolving their genuine grievances while firmly telling them not to go on strike.
The bone of contention between the government and veterans continues to be the interval at which the “pension equalization or adjustment“ will be carried out.While announcing OROP on Saturday , the government said pension revision would be done once every five years, while the veterans want it every two years. The government has made it clear that it will not budge from the fiveyear pension reset decision.But what might be negotiable is the composition and terms of the committee to be set up to examine the “interests of retirees of different periods and different ranks“ as well as consider inter-service issues under OROP .
The government on Saturday said the one-member judicial committee would submit its report in six months. The veterans want a five-member committee, with three of their representatives, to submit the report within a month. The other sticking points remain the rollout date for OROP (the government has fixed July 1, 2014 but veterans want April 1, 2014) and the base year for pension fixation (government has fixed the 2013 calendar year, while veterans want March 31, 2014).
But these remaining issues apart, there is a clear softening of stand among the veterans after the government announced the implementation of OROP , which was promised by successive governments but never actually implemented till now.
As earlier reported by TOI, retired officers will now get a monthly hike ranging from Rs 8,000 to Rs 22,000 over their existing pensions under OROP , while jawans and junior commissioned officers will get Rs 2,200 to Rs 9,000. The calculations will depend on several variables, including rank, length of service and date of retirement. Personnel who retired relatively earlier will get more than those who retired later in order to bridge exist ing gaps. The outrage among veterans after the government on Saturday initially said that those who take VRS would be kept out of OROP ambit has also ebbed.
With limited promotion avenues available in the armed forces, around 45% of officers take voluntary retirement after completing 20 years in service which makes them eligible for pension. Jawans and JCOs, similarly , become eligible for pension at 15-17 years.This also serves the aim to keep the armed forces “young and fighting fit“.