One Rank One Pension on its Way, But Can't Specify Timeframe: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

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File photo of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar


Mumbai:  Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said the long-awaited one rank one pension for ex-servicemen is "on its way" but he cannot promise a date for its implementation.

"Two or three steps remain so can't give you a specific time but it is on its way," the minister said, adding, "There cannot be a date for OROP as it involves various departments."

An event attended by Mr Parrikar in Pune on Thursday was boycotted by two decorated war veterans who said they were disillusioned by the non-implementation of one rank one pension or OROP, which will ensure that Defence personnel who retire at the same rank and with the same length of service, will get equal pension, irrespective of when they retired.

At the Pune event, organised to honour war heroes, Mr Parrikar had said, "My ministry has completed all formalities and OROP will be implemented." He also requested that the issue not be "politicised."

The Congress' Rahul Gandhi has accused the Modi government of dragging its feet on OROP after his party's government announced its implementation in its last Budget before the national election, allocating Rs 500 crore.

Today Mr Parrikar criticised the previous Congress-led UPA government for apportioning too little money for the scheme. "The Congress did not understand OROP. UPA promised OROP for many years. They allotted 500 crore in 2014. If 500 crore is acceptable I will approve it tomorrow," Mr Parrikar said.

He admitted that "even we did not understand it probably" and explained that the funds required for the scheme, which includes arrears, "is projected to be 500 crore by the Congress, 1000 crore by our government, 1300 crore by a petition committee and some groups say 14,000 crore to 22000 crore."

"So it goes on from one day to another and yet another and it is endless. But I got a feeling that there's no action, leaders only seem to be talking and talking and talking," said Wing Commander SD Karnik, one of the two war heroes who boycotted the Pune event. The Wing Commander is a 1971 war veteran who was awarded the Vir Chakra, one of India's top gallantry medals.

Indian Merchants Chamber Managing Committee Member Mark Fernandes said Mr Parrikar's comments were insulting. "No army officer, no arm defense forces ever asking for money against serving the country that is an insult to the armed forces. All we said was give us a definition, a date, a timeline, thirty years is long."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was widely expected to announce OROP - a BJP election promise - on Monday when he addressed a rally in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh to mark his government's one year in office, but that did not happen.

Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations at the time when he or she retired. So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws less pension than a Lieutenant Colonel who retired after 1996.


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