Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated his government’s commitment to One Rank One Pension (OROP) demand of ex-servicemen, in his Independence Day speech on Saturday, but did not spell out a timeframe for rolling out the scheme, drawing sharp reactions from ex-servicemen who vowed to step up their protest.
While Modi said OROP has been accepted in principle, he admitted, the issue was yet to be resolved.
“We are disappointed to say the least. We reject his (Modi) assurances and have decided to escalate our protests,” Col. Anil Kaul (retd), spokesperson of Indian Ex-servicemen Movement (ISM) told HT.
Maj. Gen. Satbir Singh (retd), chairman of ISM, said OROP was accepted in principle by the government 17 months ago. “I want to ask the Prime Minister, what is holding the implementation of OROP,” he said.
Under OROP, former Army officers and soldiers want the same pension as those of the same rank who are retiring now. Once implemented close to 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be immediate beneficiaries of the scheme.
The scheme has huge financial implication for the government with some reports claiming a burden of Rs 20,000 crore to the exchequer. Veterans however reject the figure saying it is not more than Rs 8,000 crore.
Meanwhile, employees of the Indian Railways recently demanded the benefits of the OROP, if the scheme for defence services personnel is implemented.