New Delhi (IANS): The government has decided to implement the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme for veterans, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said here on Saturday. The pension would be refixed every five years and the scheme will be with effect from July 1, 2014.
But the ex-servicemen said they were not “fully satisfied” with the government’s decision. Maj Gen (retd) Satbir Singh, spearheading the campaign for OROP said they will take a decision later on whether to continue with the agitation for the implementation of the scheme.
Parrikar said that the arrears for the much-awaited scheme will be paid in four half- yearly instalments. Widows and war widows will get it first in one instalment. “OROP will be fixed on the basis of calendar year 2013. Pension will be refixed for all pensioners on the same rank and with the same length of service as the average of minimum and maximum pension in 2013,” he said.
Parrikar said that the previous government had set aside a sum of Rs.500 crores for OROP, but it was “not based on a thorough analysis”.
He said experts have now estimated that the cost to the exchequer will be Rs.8,000 crores to Rs.10,000 crores. “This will increase further.” The expenditure on arrears alone will be around Rs.10,000 crores to Rs.12,000 crores. Those drawing pensions above the average will be protected.
The minister said that personnel who opt for premature retirement will not be covered under the OROP scheme. “In future, the pension will be refixed every five years.”
Over 25 lakh veterans would benefit from the implementation of the OROP scheme. The veterans have been protesting at Jantar Mantar for nearly three months to demand the implementation of the OROP scheme. They had said they would step up their protest if their demand was not met.
The announcement comes ahead of the upcoming Bihar assembly election. There had been intense speculation that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may announce the OROP scheme during his August 15 Independence Day address to the nation. But, he only said that the scheme had been accepted in principle.
Parrikar made the announcement in the presence of the army chief, General Dalbir Singh, the naval chief, Admiral R.K. Dhowan, the air force chief, Air Chief Marshal Aroop Raha and Defence Secretary G. Mohan Kumar.
Parrikar said that the OROP issue has been pending for four decades and this was a matter of deep anguish. He said that there were technical and financial difficulties in implementing it