The government today announced its decision to follow a one-rank-one-pension (OROP) policy for retired defence personnel, accepting a long-pending demand of thousands of ex-servicemen.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar formally announced the decision to implement the OROP policy at a press conference in New Delhi in the afternoon.
Parrikar held talks with the agitating ex-servicemen and Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah before making the announcement.
Addressing a press conference, Parrikar said pension will be re-fixed for all pensioners retiring in the same rank and same length of service, adding that the OROP will be implemented from 1 July 2014 and the base year would be 2013.
However, revision of pensions will happen only every five years against the annual revision as for the civil bureaucracy, demanded by ex-servicemen. Arrears will be given in four installments at six-monthly intervals.
Parrikar made the announcement in the presence of the Army chief General Dalbir Singh, Navy chief, Admiral RK Dhowan, Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Aroop Raha and defence secretary G Mohan Kumar.
Parrikar said the issue has been pending for nearly four decades, but PM Narendra Modi has fulfilled his commitment and approved OROP for the armed forces personnel in a short a time.
Parrikar said the defence ministry will issue a detailed order on the pension scheme soon.
BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi later told reporters that the decision to implement the one-rank-one-pension policy will cost the exchequer at least Rs10,000 crore.
Explaining the delay in announcing the government's decision, announced by the prime minister during his Independence Day speech, Parrikar said the previous government had only allocated Rs500 crore per year, against the actual annual cost of around Rs8,000-10,000 crore per year, rising each year.
"It is good what government has announced on OROP, we are satisfied," Major Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh, convenor of the agitation, said signifying partial approval after Parrikar's annuncement on OROP.
The announcement, he said, fell far short of the six demands of the ex-servicemen who are going ahead with their agitation, Gen Singh said, as the government had conceded only one (See: Ex-servicemen miffed over 1-rank, 1-pay terms; to continue stir).
The ex-servicemen also opposed the government's move to appoint a one-man committee under a judge to go into the issue of equalisation of pension, against a 5-member committee asked for by them.
Thge ex-servicemen, disapproved of setting up of one-member judicial committee, which may be unaware of the intricacies of employment of defence personnel. "It should be under defence minister and not given more than one month," Singh said.