Relief for ex-servicemen
After years of struggle, some relief has finally come for 12 lakh ex-servicemen on Monday when Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced rationalising the pension benefits of retired jawans and Junior Commissioned Officers (JCO) in accordance with their “One Rank One Pension” (OROP) demand.
Despite demands from ex-servicemen, successive governments in the past had claimed that OROP was untenable and meeting it would cost a bomb. The anomaly was created by the Fifth and Sixth Pay Commissions. The Congress had promised OROP in its poll manifesto in 2004. However, the UPA government rejected the OROP demand in December 2008, after which ex-servicemen returned their gallantry medals to the President and made open overtures towards the BJP. Following protracted protests, a committee was set up under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar to review the OROP issues. Interestingly, it was announced ahead of the Parliamentary polls in Punjab, Haryana, Uttaranchal and Rajasthan, which contribute thousands of soldiers to the three services.
On the basis of the panel’s suggestion, the Centre has now agreed to substantially hike the pension of Personnel Below the Officer Rank (PBOR) and JCOs.
The pension of PBOR and JCOs who retired before October 10, 1997, (implementation date for the Fifth Pay Commission recommendations) will be brought at par with the pension of those retired after that date.
The pension of those retired before January 1, 2006 –– including the 1997 group –– will be substantially hiked to come close to those who retired after the cut-off date of January 1, 2006 (implementation date for the Sixth Pay Commission).
Once realised, the new pension scheme will lead to creation of two groups of pensioners in the armed forces with January 1, 2006, serving as the cut off date.
“This is not OROP. Those who retired after January 1, 2006, will get higher pension. The government has just bridged a gap for the JCOs and PBORs,” Maj Gen Satbir Singh, vice chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement told Deccan Herald. Both decisions would be implemented from July 1, 2009, resulting in enhanced pension for more than 12 lakh jawans and JCOs.
DH News Service