New Delhi: Just ahead of Independence Day celebrations, group of armed forces chiefs have written an open letter to President Pranab Mukherjee to urgently intervene and end the row over "One Rank, One Pension (OROP)".
It is being widely speculated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will announce the OROP, during his Independence Day speech from the Red Fort on Saturday.
The letter has been signed by former Army chief General SF Rodrigues, and former Navy chiefs, Admirals L Ramdas, Arun Prakash and Sureesh Mehta, urges the President to ensure approval of OROP. The ex-military chiefs have warned that denial of OROP is merely the last straw that has exhausted the veterans' patience.
Expressing concern over the delay in rolling out 'OROP' scheme, they said, "It is with a sense of deep anguish that we are writing to draw the attention of the Supreme Commander to the dismal spectacle of our veteran soldiers, driven to undertake public protests and demonstrations to press their demand for the - long overdue grant of OROP".
It appears to be the culmination of a process by which successive Pay Commissions have been used to whittle down the financial and protocol status of the military over the years vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts, the letter said.
It added that the decline in the status of military in India "has been orchestrated" to make it "subservient to the bureaucracy".
Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the pay commission recommendations at the time when the personnel retired.
This leads to a difference in pension for officers of same rank who retire on different dates.
With OROP, retired personnel would draw the same pension as officers and jawans of the same rank who are retiring now.
They would also be entitled to a year's back pensions at the new rate, which would be a windfall for pensioners.
The OROP will benefit 25 lakh ex-servicemen. It is expected to cost the government around Rs 8,500 crore.