Thursday, August 26, 2010

One-rank one-pension cannot be implemented immediately: Antony

New Delhi: Implementation of one-rank one-pension for exservicemen cannot be done anytime soon, Defence Minister AK Antony said on Wednesday, after members across party lines in Rajya Sabha demanded that the Govt. look into the grievances of retired military personnel. A group of ex-servicemen have been staging public protests against the governments failure to implement one-rank one-pension scheme,and on Sunday hundreds of them returned their medals to the President.

The ex-servicemens demand is that all veterans should get the same pension if they have retired in the same rank, irrespective of when they retired. The reality is different.Whenever a pay commission increases salaries and pension,it has only prospective effect. So the gap in the pension of older retirees and their younger equivalent keeps increasing with each pay commission. A soldier who retired before 31.12.2005 gets significantly less pension than a soldier who retired with the same experience in the same rank after 01.01.2006.

Antony told Rajya Sabha, At this time we cannot implement one-rank one-pension, but we are nearing the goal. It is a long process. He was replying to a zero hour mention of the issue by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley. Though it was mentioned in the budget speech of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, no steps have been taken so far to implement the one-rank one-pension system, Jaitley said. Neither the 5th nor the 6th Pay Commission addressed the issue.The finance minister also indicated in his budget speech that a committee will be formed but nothing happened, he added. The Opposition leader also appealed to ex-servicemen not to return their medals. Jaitley was supported by members cutting across party lines.CPM leader Sitaram Yechury and Congress member P J Kurien were among those who supported Jaitley. I would also request the government to look into the issue of thousands of jawans (soldiers) being retired before the age of 40, Kurien said.

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