New Delhi: Amid a stand-off over 'One Rank, One Pension' (OROP), the agitating ex-servicemen on Saturday met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and discussed modalities of government's proposal for resolution of the issue.
After the meeting, the ex-servicemen announced that the government has approved the OROP concept in principle.
Talking to journalists, spokesman of the protesting veterans, Major General (Retd) Satbir Singh, said they have told the government that there is nothing like voluntary retirement (VRS) in defence. Only the concept of premature retirement exists and those who opt it also get pension, added Singh.
Saying that the meeting between the delegation and Parrikar took place in an amicable environment, Singh said that the Defence Minister has understood their point that all those veterans who sought premature retirement should get OROP and those getting disability pension should also get it.
"By the grace of God, OROP has been approved by the government," Singh said at a press conference at Jantar Mantar.
"The third bone of contention is still there, which is when the revision of pension should take place. While the government is saying it should be five years, we have said that this will kill the definition of One Rank, One Pension. The minister has said a committee will be formed on this," he said.
He announced that the government has proposed making one-man commission (probably a retired judge) to look into the demand of veterans. However, Singh said that they have suggested to constitute a five-member committee (which should include three ex-veterans, one serviceman, and one retired judge).
The delegation has asked the government to set a timeframe of 15-30 days to resolve the issue.
With their agitation at Jantar Mantar seeking early implementation of OROP entering the 83rd day today, retired personnel of the armed forces made it clear that they want the concept of OROP to be executed properly, and no senior should get lesser pension than a junior at any time.
The Defence Ministry has called a press conference this afternoon. However, the subject of the press conference has not been disclosed.
It is understood that a draft proposal on OROP was circulated at a RSS meeting yesterday which envisaged commencement of the scheme from July 2014, besides revision of pension every five years.
According to the draft, the basis for the implementation of the scheme would be 2013 and arrears would be paid in four installments.
Close to 26 lakh retired servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for the defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.
Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations of the time when he or she retired. So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws less pension than a Lt Colonel who retired after 1996.