Re: AN IMPORTANT LETTER BY IESM TO RM WITH COPY TO OTHERS - "REPORT MY SIGNAL..
AN IMPORTANT LETTER FOR THE "GANDHIAN" DEFENCE MINISTER'S WASTE-PAPER BASKET IN PARTITIONED INDIA.)
SUBJECT: WHY VETERANS ISSUES IGNORED WITH IMPUNITY?
Dear Defence Minister,
1. We have been writing to you for your intervention to address anomalies, discrepancies and deficiencies in Pay & Pensions, One Rank One Pension (OROP), Health Care, Registration as Voters at the place of posting in respect of serving defence personnel, canteen facilities to the veterans, restructuring of DESW, freeing the AFTs from the MoD Control etc. While a miniscule of our demands have been accepted but sadly most of our major issues/demands still require to be attended to by your Ministry. The fact, your good self has not even acknowledged our letters, leave alone taking action, is what makes us feel hurt, anguished and angry. Our request to meet our delegation has also not been granted by you as yet
2. Mr. Defence Minister, we are your erstwhile soldiers and expect you to meet our genuine concerns and spare us from harassment and injustice. May we ask you the following:-
(a) Why has the recommendations of Rajya Sabha Petition Committee on OROP, presented in the Rajya Sabha on 19 Dec 2011 strongly recommending the grant of OROP holistically to all defence personnel, not been accepted so far ? Your reply in the Parliament and outside that “We are bridging the gap” does not inspire any confidence since OROP means REMOVAL OF THE GAP and not bridging. Even the legal view is in favour of grant of OROP. Defence fraternity along with their family members and supporters have. “Voting Power” of over Ten Crores. Your continuous neglect of and injustices to the Defence Forces, both serving and retired have already antagonised this large population of the country.
(b) Why recent enhancement of pensions to correct a serious intentionally introduced anomaly in 6th CPC award and corrected by the courts, has been made effective from 24 Sep 2012 instead of 01 Jan 2006? The recent judgement dated 29th April 2013 of Delhi High Court where Govt petition has been dismissed and the 6th CPC arrears are to be paid from 01 Jan 2006 needs to be implemented for the Defence personnel also at the earliest.
(c) Why the AFTs have not been made free from the Administrative Control of MoD and placed under the Law Ministry? Why the civil contempt powers have not been granted to the AFTs so far? The AFTs which were created to provide speedy and economical justice to the Defence personnel, in fact have become big hurdle in dispensing the justice to them. Every case is being contested against the judgement of AFTs by MoD in the SC.
(d) Strange is the system where the Govt is fighting against its own soldiers. The case of the Solicitor General not appearing for scheduled hearings in SC on 17 occasions in the Rank Pay Case is known to you. In spite of a clear judgement, MoD has not implemented it in letter and spirit, denying thousands of defence personnel both serving and retired and family pensioners their legitimate dues. Just to amplify the injustice, I quote my example, I was Lt Col on 01-01-86 and became Col on 05-02-87, Brig in May 1993 and Maj Gen in Aug 2000. The total arrears and the interest paid to me by CDA is Rs 2742/- How ridiculous it is to get this amount? Mr. Defence Minister I was denied Rs 800/- per month, Rs 1000 per month and Rs 1200 per month with effect from the dates of my promotion mentioned above. As per the SC judgement, the pay scales for the 4th CPC were to be reworked out and carried forward to 5th and 6th CPC. Multiplication by 2 and 2.4 were to be applied to the newly worked out scales of 4th CPC for the 5th and 6th CPCs respectively. The judgement was to be applicable to all serving and retired defence personnel and family pensioners but the MoD has again manipulated the wording in the implementation letter by changing the wording of the judgement “With effect from 01-01-86” to “ As on 01-01-86”., thus denying the legitimate dues to thousands of defence personnel and family pensioners. Why such a lackadaisical and apathetic attitude of MoD towards its soldiers?
(e) You are aware that widows pensions specially of jawans widows which count for approx 85 percent, has not been increased. The minimum family pension has not been increased for the past over ten years. With only Rs 3500 per month how do you expect the widow to manage her needs? Why family pension is reduced to 60% of the ESM pension is again not understood? If the wife die’s earlier, the ESM continues to get full pension but when the ESM passes away first, the spouse is left with 60% of pension. There should be no reduction and NOK should continue to get full pension of the ESM. During our meeting with you in your office, you had assured us about enhancement of widows pensions. The same has not been enhanced so far.
(f) It defies all logic as to why Non Functional Upgrade (NFU) and 3rd Career Progression have not been granted to defence personnel, while the same have been authorised to all other Central Govt employees? The issues of serving personnel which had been reviewed by the committee of secretaries headed by the Cabinet Secy by the PM without any representation from the Defence Forces, have not been decided as yet. You are aware that the grant of legitimate demands in respect of serving personnel has direct bearing on the pensions of the veterans, since pensions are 50 percent of the pay. Why these genuine demands are ignored with impunity is causing lot of heart burns to the defence personnel.
(g) Healthcare of veterans is one of the important aspects of post retirement needs. The ECHS though a step in the right direction needs to be upgraded in quality and content. The scheme which was meant to provide Super Specialty medical care closer home to the veterans has been facing numerous problems as under :-
(i) There is an acute shortage of funds. While the budget for CGHS last year was planned at Rs 10500/- per beneficiary, the ECHS funds have been allotted at the rates of Rs 3050/- per beneficiary. Why this large gap, when the provision of medical care across the country in the interiors would cost more than the urban areas where majority of CGHS beneficiaries reside? Why this inadequate allotment to ECHS is not understood? There are over 42 lacs 50 thousand beneficiaries of ECHS and accordingly even at the rate of Rs 10500, the amount works out to Rs 4500 crores. The ECHS budget allotment last year was merely 1600 crores.
(ii) Consequently, the bills of the empanelled hospitals are not paid for long time, forcing these hospitals to withdraw from the scheme. This has caused serious shortcomings and difficulties in provisioning of Medical Care to the veterans. Over 80 percent of the good Super Specialty Hospitals have withdrawn from the scheme. Probably, you may not be aware that city like Mumbai does not have any ECHS empanelled hospital. Is it a surprise to you Mr. Defence Minister or you are aware of it and has done nothing about it? The Secy DESW has done nothing to ensure Super Specialty hospitals are empanelled across the country to assist the MD ECHS to manage the scheme effectively. We had forwarded a list of suggestions but due to lackadaisical attitude of the MoD, our suggestions have been totally ignored.
(iii) Out sourcing of Pharmacy to provide the required medicines has not been sanctioned in spite of assurances from you. Over sixty important medicines are not available in ECHS across the country. Why the Finance Ministry has not been able to accept your recommendations are again not understood?
4. Mr. Defence Minister, we expect you to kindly give due considerations to our genuine demands and grant these at the earliest to undo the injustice. We again review our request for a meeting with you of our delegations at the earliest please.
NB: AN HONOURABLE DEFENCE MINISTER OF A DECENT COUNTRY WOULD HAVE REMOVED THE GRIEVANCES OF EX SOLDIERS BEFORE THEY EVEN FELT COMPELLED TO WRITE TO HIM!