New Delhi,Sep6:A historic announcement by the government on Saturday accepting the 40-year-old demand for one rank one pension to remove disparities in pensions took the edge off veterans’ resentment, but couldn’t immediately convince them to call off their stir.
Flanked by the three service chiefs, defense minister Manohar Parrikar told a packed news conference that the decision to implement the scheme reflected the government’s commitment to the welfare of veterans, despite the fiscal burden — an annual payout in the range of Rs 8,000 crore to Rs 10,000 crore.
The scheme will be effective from July 1, 2014, with arrears amounting to anywhere between Rs 10,000 crore and Rs 12,000 crore. While widows will get arrears in lump-sum, others will be paid in four half-yearly installments.
Orders for implementation would be out in “15 days to one month”, Parrikar said. New pensions will be fixed with 2013 as the base year.
The ultras were also killing innocent people by falsely branding them as police informers, besides torturing tribal girls and women, said the surrendered Maoists.
Veterans welcomed the decision but said they were not celebrating until a few sticking points were sorted out.
Parrikar said pensions would be re-calculated every five years but soldiers who took “voluntary retirement” would not be entitled to OROP, striking a raw nerve in the ex-servicemen community.
The veterans, who have been holding protests across the country for 83 days now, want the pension to be reworked every two years and the benefits of the scheme extended to premature retirees.
Later in the day, representatives of ex-servicemen met Parrikar in his office and returned “satisfied” with “strong indications” that premature retirees would not be left high and dry.
Group Captain VK Gandhi (retd), general secretary of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, said, “Our mood is cautiously optimistic. We haven’t called off our protest and future course will be dictated by outcomes on pending issues and after we get something in writing.”
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