While the government has more or less agreed to OROP implementation from April 2014 onwards, as also 2013 as the base year for pension fixation, there is still no meeting ground on the third demand. Despite another round of meeting with Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag on Thursday , the veterans stuck to their demand for “pension equalization“ at least once every two years, while the government is ready to concede “adjustment“ only at five-year intervals. As reported by TOI earlier, the government is now prepared to unilaterally announce OROP before the model code of conduct kicks in for the Bihar assembly elections. While widows will be paid arrears arising from OROP implementation at one go, others will get them in four instalments.
The government, however, will not budge on pension revision once every five years.
“We will not make any concessions on pension equalization every year, or at the most once in two years.We will continue with our stir, which has entered the 81st day today (Thursday),“ said Major-General Satbir Singh (retd), chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement.
“The government is trying to portray us as greedy , while also trying to create a divide between officers and other ranks. It is constantly shifting the goalposts. There is no clear signal of intent from the government or any concrete proposal. We will not accept anything if it is against the agreed definition of OROP,“ said Colonel Anil Kaul (retd).
Group Captain V K Gandhi, in turn, said, “The government can unilaterally announce OROP implementation, with pension equalization once in five years ... It's the boss. It will pay the money but not get the goodwill.“
Asked about the veterans planning a protest rally in poll-bound Bihar, Gandhi said: “We are not joining politics or taking a political stand. We will only urge people to vote for a party that will fulfil its promises. The government is taking undue advantage of our disciplined nature ... it will be responsible if anything happens to the ex-servicemen on hunger strike.“
As reported by TOI earlier, as per defence ministry calculations, there will be an additional annual outgo of at least Rs 8,300 crore if full OROP is granted to the around 25 lakh ex-servicemen in the country . If it's implemented from 2014, it adds up to at least Rs 16,600 crore by now, ahead of the implementation of the 7th Pay Commission from 2016 onwards.