The government is expected to announce the implementation of the one rank one pension (OROP) scheme before the dates for the Bihar polls are made public but differences remain on key issues.
A draft of the OROP scheme is ready and is likely to be made public soon, sources were quoted as saying by IANS. The government has taken 2013 as the base year for calculating the pension to be paid to former military personnel and scheme will be implemented with effect from July 2014.
An announcement on OROP is expected before dates for the Bihar assembly polls are made public, CNN-IBN channel quoted its sources as saying. The sources said the government had conceded to two key demands but did not give details.
Once the dates for the polls are announced by the Election Commission, the government will be unable to unveil any new schemes.
Reports said the government and veterans, who have protesting for more than two months to pressure the authorities to implement OROP, had reached an agreement.
However, the government has stuck to its stand of reviewing pensions only once in five years, which is not acceptable to the former military personnel.
Tales of hardship from ex-servicemen's OROP battle
The veterans had agreed to accept a scheme whereby pensions are revised every two years. They pointed out that with such a provision, 11% of retired senior officials will get lower pension than their juniors for a year.
A key demand of the veterans is that juniors should not get higher pensions than seniors.
The former military personnel threatened on Friday to intensify their protests if their demands are not met.
Accusing the government of drawing up plans to make a unilateral announcement about OROP, Maj Gen (retired) Satbir Singh, chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, said the veterans will not allow authorities to dilute the scheme’s provisions.
Addressing retired soldiers at Jantar Mantar, where the veterans have been protesting for weeks, Singh said they were fighting “injustice” and were not against the government or any political party.
Unlike civil servants, only 1% of military personnel serve till the age of 60 and 85% retire before the age of 40, he said.
“We will intensify our agitation if OROP is not in conformity with what we are asking,” he said, adding the veterans are willing to make minor concessions. “If any announcement (by the government) is against our interests, we will oppose it.”
As he spoke, hundreds of former soldiers shouted slogans like "Bharat Mata ki Jai" and "Sainik Ekta Zindabad".
Veterans want the OROP scheme to ensure the same pension is paid to former military personnel of the same rank, regardless of when they retired. It is expected to benefit nearly 3 million defence pensioners and 600,000 widows.
All personnel who retired before 2006, the year the 6th pay panel’s report became effective, receive smaller pensions than their counterparts and their juniors.
A major general who retired in 1995, for instance, draws a basic pension of Rs 30,350 but an officer retiring in the same rank after 2006 gets Rs 38,500.
Annual pension revision not possible: Jaitley on OROP