Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said there will be "good news" soon on one rank one pension (OROP) scheme, a long-standing demand of ex-servicemen who have been holding protests across the nation.
"It's an inter-departmental issue. As far as the defence ministry is concerned, our work is almost over. This is taking time but I can say that there will be a good news soon," he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that his government is committed to the long-awaited OROP policy for ex-servicemen.
Currently, the pension of retired personnel is based on the pay commission recommendations in force at the time of their retirement.
OROP scheme is aimed at ensuring that all retired soldiers, who have the same rank and the length of service receive the same amount of pension, irrespective of their date of retirement. Currently, all those soldiers who retired before 2006 receive less pension than their counterparts and even their juniors.
Parrikar, who was in Lucknow to inaugurate an orientation programme for newly-elected cantonment board members, said the defence ministry will not be an hindrance in developmental projects.
"The ministry will not be creating hurdles in developmental projects. We have given land for developmental works wherever needed. However, we will not compromise with the security issue," he said in reply to a question.
However, ex-servicemen are not calling off their agitation now. “We will not end our dharna at Jantar Mantar till the government gives us a written assurance. The fact that ex-servicemen had to hit the streets to fight for our rights is affecting the morale of the defence forces,” said Ram Kumar, general secretary, National Ex-Serviceman Co-ordination Committee.
Refusing to react to Pakistani defence minister Khwaja Asif’s statement on the use of nuclear weapons, Parrikar said, “Every comment need not be answered. I am India’s defence minister, not of Pakistan.” He said cross border terrorism and resultant casualties on the Indian side have gone down since he took over.
The minister also hinted at amendments in Cantonments Board Act, 2006.
The Cantonments Board Act, 2006 authorises the cantonment boards to take up a number of activities including for social welfare subject to availability of funds.
The orientation programme will bring together 163 elected members of 24 cantonment boards at one forum, 114 of them being first-timers, to deliberate on key issues pertaining to the cantonment board administration.
The Boards have to perform both municipal and developmental activities and have the power to impose various taxes and fees.
The programme is being held for the first time as part of an initiative taken by the director general, defence estates.
(With PTI inputs)