OROP protest continues as government gives fresh assurance
On a day when Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the government was committed to ‘One Rank One Pension’, protesting ex-servicemen wondered if they should be hopeful once more.
“It is good if it is true. But it is late…” Col. (retd) Anil Kaul, spokesman of the United Front of Ex-Servicemen (UFESM), told IANS. “We are getting assurances since February. Hope the minister is not wrong again,” he said. The protest, which started on June 14, entered its 26th day on Thursday. Since June 15, ex-servicemen have been sitting on a relay hunger strike, and on Thursday, 59 veterans were fasting.
Asked when anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare was likely to join the protest, Kaul said they have not yet got any information on that. The ex-servicemen are demanding that the government gives them a date for implementation of the OROP. They have also demanded that the nature of the scheme should not be changed.
Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations at the time when the personnel retires. This leads to a difference in pension for officers of the same rank who retire on different dates. With OROP, retired personnel would draw the same pension as officers of the same rank who are retiring now. They would also be entitled to a year’s back pension at the new rate, which would be a windfall for pensioners.
The OROP will benefit 25 lakh ex-servicemen. It is expected to cost the government around Rs.8,500 crore.
Indo-Asian News Service