NEW DELHI -- The Indian government is expected to make an announcement about 'One Rank One Pension' today after a delegation of ex-servicemen met defence minister Manohar Parrikar today.
While the veterans have made it clear that they would not compromise on their key demands, including that no senior should get lesser pension than a junior at any time.
The veterans also said that OROP would be applicable to those who have sought voluntary retirement and are getting pension, as well as those getting disability pension.
Earlier, amid reports that government would announce the OROP formula before the model code of conduct sets in ahead of Bihar polls, spokesman of the protesting veterans Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh said the condition of revision every five years cannot meet their basic concept.
"Today we have got indication that government is inclined to implement the OROP. We are meeting the Defence Minister," he had said. "We have discussed what government wants to give. We are going to the Defence Minister with an open mind. We will take further decision after meeting him,."
There are key differences between the two groups yet, and the ex-servicemen, who have been agitating for the last 82 days, have made it clear that any unilateral decision would not be accepted. There has as yet not been any agreement on revision of pension. Though the protestors have indicated that they may accept a revision every two years but the government has been insisting that equalisation will happen once in five years.
According to reports, 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.
Asked if they were ready for such a revision, Singh said, "Whether it is 5 years, one year or two years. If our concept is not met, then we will reject it and will fight for it."
He said whenever allowance or slab is increased it has to be passed on to the pensioners, including previous pensioners and there cannot be a situation where a junior gets more pension than a senior.
Singh, who is Chairman of Indian Ex-servicemen Movement, said one thing was very important that all those veterans who sought voluntary retirement and are getting pension, will get OROP and those getting disability pension will also get it.
On reports that government was considering leaving them out of OROP, he said, "This is not acceptable. We reject it. OROP will also be applicable on those getting disability pension. These issues are non-negotiable."
He said, "If government agrees on our concept, we are open. If concept is met, we can think and discuss. If concept is not met, then we will reject it."
"Our main proposal is that a senior should not get pension less than a junior. We will wait for full plan of government and then come with a calibrated response," he said.
"If senior's pension is less than a junior, government will have to think. This condition cannot be met if revision is done after five years. For us, it has to be done every year. If government gives any other time frame when junior gets less pension than senior, we are ready to discuss it," he said.
Ex-servicemen participating in a protest over the delay in implementation of One Rank, One Pension (OROP), at Jantar Mantar on August 25, 2015 in New Delhi.
According to the draft, the basis for the implementation of the scheme would be 2013 and arrears would be paid in four instalments.
Reacting to the proposal, the ex-servicemen had threatened to intensify their stir if the government makes any unilateral announcement regarding implementation of OROP which is not in consonance with the terms and conditions set by the defence veterans.
"There are reports that the government may soon unilaterally declare the implementation of OROP. If it is as per our terms and conditions then we will welcome it and thank the government," said Singh to PTI.
"If not, then the unilateral declaration is unacceptable to us. We will intensify our protests."
Singh said the OROP should be implemented from March 31, 2014 and they will not accept if it is done from July, 2014. He claimed the government has to only spend Rs 30 crore for six-consecutive years for "equalisation of pension".
"If the government can spend Rs 60 crore on giving subsidy to Parliament canteen, then I have nothing to say," he said.
The OROP has been stuck for a while despite hectic back channel talks between the government and the veterans.
Col (Retd) Anil Kaul, media adviser to the United Front of Ex-Servicemen, had said that cost of implementing OROP will come to around Rs 8,294 crore. The figure, he said, has been worked out by "three service pay cells and figures estimated by the Ministry of Defence."
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.
(with PTI inputs)