Govt refuses to lift cap on fees of martyrs' children

Govt refuses to lift cap on fees of martyrs' children

The defence ministry has virtually rejected the armed forces' demand for lifting a cap on the educational expenses of children whose parents died in the front.

"Representations have been received asking for removal of the cap of Rs 10,000 per month on the combined amount of tuition fee and hostel charges. A reply has been sent stating that the combined amount of tuition fee and hostel charges has been capped in accordance with the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission," Subhash Bhamre, Minister of State for Defence, said in a written response in the Rajya Sabha.

The government will save Rs 3.2 crore because of the cap, Bhamre said.

The minister's response comes a month after India's senior-most military officer and Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba wrote to the government with a request to lift the cap in order to help the children of soldiers killed in the battle front or in any other military action to pursue higher education.

Admiral Lanba, who chairs the Chief of Staff Committee, wrote to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with a request to lift the cap in a humanitarian gesture following an order that puts the cap on the educational expenses of the children of a slain soldier.

There is no such ceiling in the existing norms that came into effect two days after India's victory in the 1971 war against Pakistan.

According to the new order, the combined amount of tuition fee and hostel charges for the children of martyrs or those disabled in action has been capped at Rs 10,000 per month. It will go up by 25% each time the Dearness Allowance rises by 50%.

Approximately, 250 students will be affected in the current financial year.

In 2017-18, out of 2,679 students (up to December 27, 2017), 193 were drawing more than the capped amount. The highest amount drawn was Rs 18.95 lakh per annum. The total savings is Rs 3.2 crore.

Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and Minister of State for External Affairs and former Army chief Gen V K Singh wrote to Nirmala Sitharaman, seeking a reversal of the order issued by the department of ex-servicemen.

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