The 'one rank one pension' scheme for defence veterans announced by the Narendra Modi government on Saturday failed to satisfy the ex-servicemen who said their agitation will continue.
Announcing the scheme, defence minister Manohar Parrikar assured an equal pension to military personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, regardless of the date of retirement.
The ex-servicemen however said the government accepted only one out of their six demands. The opposition Congress joined them by saying the government has "substantially diluted" its provisions.
Later in the evening, one of the contentious issues seemed sorted with representatives of ex-servicemen saying they got "strong indications" from Parrikar that premature retirees will not be left out of the scheme.
Here are the main features from the government's OROP announcement and the complaints the veterans have about some of them.
1. Cost to exchequer: The estimated cost to exchequer would be Rs 8,000 to 10,000 crore at present and will increase further in future. Defence minister Parrikar said the previous government had put the estimate at Rs 500 crore.
2. Base year for OROP: The scheme will be effective from July 1, 2014, and the base year will be 2013. The veterans wanted OROP from April 1, 2014 and 2015 as the base year.
3. Yearly vs 5-yearly review: The government proposes to hold a review every five years. The veterans want a review held every year. Some reports say they were even willing to settle for a two-yearly revision. Their contention is that a senior officer can never receive a smaller pension than a junior officer.
4.Premature retirees: The government initially said soldiers who took “voluntary retirement” would not be entitled to OROP. This struck a raw nerve as at least 40% of servicemen retire early, and such a decision would be a big blow for the forces. Later in the evening, representatives of ex-servicemen met Parrikar in his office and returned “satisfied” with “strong indications” that premature retirees would not be left high and dry
5. Judicial panel vs Veterans' panel: The government will constitute a single-member judicial committee to look into various aspects of OROP, including inter-services matters, and it will submit its report in six months. The ex-servicemen say the deadline has to be thirty days. They demand a five-member panel of which three should be veterans, one serving serviceman and an officer of their choice.
6. Three mn personnel: About three million military personnel will be covered under the OROP scheme. The arrears will be paid in four half-yearly instalments and all widows, including war widows, will get arrears in lump sum.