Date: 15/05/2014

Retd soldiers irked over Cong’s OROP boasting

Tribune News Service

11 May 2014

New Delhi

Even as the one-rank-one-pension (OROP) formula for retired soldiers remains unimplemented, almost daily claims by Congress leaders during electioneering that they have given the OROP have the veterans angry.

Maj-Gen Satbir Singh (retd), chairman of the Indian Ex-servicemen Movement (IESM), today said no order for implementing the OROP formula had been issued so far.

“During election rallies, all top leaders of the Congress, including its president (Sonia Gandhi), have been boasting of having granted the OROP, but the soldiers are still waiting for the formal orders to be issued by the government,” he said.

He said the Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA), the Principal Controller Defence Accounts (PDCA) and the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW) are now carrying out their own interpretation of the OROP definition.

“This falls far below the intended pension benefits to defence personnel,” he said.

Interpreting the definition of OROP in any other way than as per the Rajya Sabha Petition Committee Report presented in Parliament on December 19, 2011, is a “serious manipulation” by the bureaucracy, the body of retired soldiers maintains.

According to the IESM, the RS panel report said, “OROP implies uniform pension be paid to armed forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement, and any future enhancement in the rates of pension be automatically passed on to the past pensioners. This implies bridging the gap between the rate of pension of the current pensioners and the past pensioners and future enhancements….be automatically passed on to the past pensioners”.

The fears of retired servicemen stem from the formation of a working group, comprising representatives of the CGDA, the DESW, the Ministry of Defence (Finance) and the three Services.

The panel was formed on April 24 and the CGDA was asked to finalise the draft government letter (DGL).

It has to be submitted to the MoD along with estimate of financial implications thereof, within three weeks (before May 14).

The DGL was presented by the Services on April 22, but it was rejected.

Since the deadline ends just two days before the counting for the General Election (May 16), there are fears that the outgoing government may not be able to implement the formula in case officials came up with some fresh complication.