'One-rank, one-pension' to be implemented soon: Parrikar
The “one-rank, one-pension” (OROP) scheme for retired armed forces personnel is expected to be implemented once the finance ministry approves the scheme, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday.
Parrikar did not commit himself to a date for implementing the scheme but said while addressing a gathering of businessmen at the Indian Merchant Chamber in Mumbai that some key issues were yet to be settled.
“There were certain issues which need to be ironed out. I have crystallised the format, and in May this year the file has been sent to the finance ministry. It should be approved,” he said.
Listing the areas of concern, Parrikar said there were issues like budgetary allocations for OROP. The previous UPA government had allotted Rs 500 crore while the NDA government has allotted Rs 1,000 crore.
On the other hand, the petition committee recommended Rs 1,300 crore and the financial advisor (defence services) recommended Rs 1,200 crore. There were also independent studies that recommended figures varying between Rs 14,000 crore and Rs 22,000 crore, said Parrikar.
“So the entire debate varied from Rs 500 crore to Rs 22,000 crore, and extensive meetings were held to iron out this kind of issues,” he said.
The NDA government has been facing sharp criticism from associations of retired military personnel and the main opposition Congress for not implementing the OROP scheme.
With the implementation of OROP, which will benefit about 2,500,000 people, personnel who retired over the years will draw the same pension as officers and soldiers of the same rank who retire now. They will also be entitled to a year's back pay in pensions at the new rate.
Stressing the need for OROP to be implemented, Parrikar reasoned that a soldier retires at the age of 35 or 36 after serving for nearly 17 years.
“At 35, the jawan has his entire family to take care. He has his child to be educated or possibly has old parents to take care. It is at this age when he actually needs a job,” said Parrikar. “The sacrifices defence personnel make cannot be equated in money.”