Sunday, September 13, 2015
Veterans seek changes in OROP
A large number of ex-servicemen gathered at Jantar Mantar here on Saturday for a ‘Sainik Ekta Rally,’ demanding that the Centre grant one rank one pension (OROP) in its “rightful form.”
They rejected the version announced by the Govt last week and put forward seven points.
Responding to questions on the rally, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said it was their “democratic right” but pointed out that OROP was granted for the first time in four decades.
The veterans tried to present a unified picture under the United Front of Ex-Servicemen Movement after divisions in the group, following which Lt Gen Balbir Singh, Veteran,a key representative of the movement in talks with the Govt, left on Wednesday.
In a related development, speaking at a seminar organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Parrikar said OROP would not be a financial drain as was being reported. “Some people say OROP is a huge burden, but I would say OROP is merely 2.29 per cent of the total defence outlay,” he said. It could be met by reducing wastage and removing middlemen in defence deals, he said.
Addressing the veterans at the rally, Maj. Gen. (retd.) Satbir Singh, chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, said: “The government should accept our seven points and we will call off our agitation immediately.”
He alleged that the government was threatening them to call off the agitation. He said equalisation every five years was “unacceptable.”
He said the government had created an “avoidable confusion” by including the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) in the announcement. “Those who have taken premature retirement must come under OROP.”
The veterans rejected the one-man judicial commission, announced by the government, but would settle for a five-member commission with three veterans on board, if it was unavoidable. The commission should submit the report in a month.
They also wanted that the 2013-2014 financial year be the base year for calculating pension, the highest pension scale of 2013 be taken as the base for calculation and not the average, as announced by the government, OROP should not be linked to the Seventh Pay Commission and the scheme be in force forever.