One-rank, one-pension for defence staff

One-rank, one-pension for defence staff

The Centre has finally given its nod to implement the long-pending demand of service personnel to implement one-rank one-pension (OROP) to ensure uniform pension for more than 20 lakh retired army personnel.

The interim budget enhanced the defence outlay by 10 per cent from Rs 203,672 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 224,000 crore in 2014-15. Almost half of the hike would be spent on acquiring military hardware.

But OROP remains the most important highlight of the defence budget. The acceptance comes three days after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi supported OROP and told the veterans the government would do everything to address their concerns.

“The government has accepted the principle of one-rank, one-pension for the defence forces. This decision will be implemented prospectively from 2014-15,” Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram said presenting the interim budget in the Lok Sabha.
Under OROP, retired service personnel were demanding same pension for individuals retiring on the same rank and having the same length of service. At the moment, there is a difference in pension amount between those who retired before January 1, 2006, and after that date.

For instance a colonel who retired in 2003 gets Rs 26,500 as pension as against Rs 34,000 drawn by another officer holding the same rank, who retired in 2014.

Though previous UPA defence ministers – Pranab Mukherjee and A K Antony – were sympathetic to OROP, which received support from Parliament, several government panels were against its implementation arguing heavy financial burden and similar demands coming from other sectors.

“It is an important and historic step. Armed personnel are guarding our country and it is our duty to look after their well being,” Gandhi said reacting to the announcement.
A additional Rs 500 crore in 2014-15 will be transferred to the Defence Ministry in the current fiscal to take care of OROP expenses.

Defence Ministry sources said OROP is expected to cost about Rs 2,500 crore every year and Rs 500 crore is only the initial allocation.

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