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Monday, 20 August 2012

Pay, pension issues report yet to be tabled Ex-servicemen feel the delay indicates government’s unwillingness.

Pay, pension issues report yet to be tabled

Ex-servicemen feel the delay indicates government’s unwillingness.

SUMAN SHARMA  New Delhi | 19th Aug
he government's promise to resolve pay and pension issues of armed forces personnel is yet to be fulfilled. A Committee of Secretaries was set-up in July this year to look into anomalies of pay and pension, and this Committee has not yet submitted its report to the Prime Minister, thereby giving rise to speculation of likely unfulfillment of the recommendations made, in favour of retired and serving personnel.
The Committee, headed by Cabinet Secretary, was looking into five issues pertaining to serving personnel and four issues of retired pensioners. One rank one pension (OROP) has always been a strong demand of retired personnel for which they have been actively fighting for more than four years.
Ex-servicemen feel that the delay is indicative of the government's unwillingness to fulfill their demands. This Committee has Secretaries from the Ministries of Defence, Finance, Expenditure, Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare and PM's Principal Secretary Pulok Chatterjee.
For serving personnel, some of the issues this Committee is examining are common pay-scale for in-service non-officer men, initial pay fixation for Lt Col, Colonel and Brigadier equivalent and review and enhancement of grade pay. For retired pensioners the Committee is looking into one rank one pension, enhancement of family pension and dual family pensions, among others.
Retired Major General Satbir Singh. Vice Chairman of Ex-servicemen Movement told this newspaper, "A Parliamentary Committee had earlier recommended OROP to the Prime Minister, but he ignored this recommendation made by 10 MPs, and instead set up a separate committee of bureaucrats, who have not yet submitted their report and also there is no representative from the armed forces in this Committee. A fraud is being played by the PM himself on the defence services." Satbir Singh, who recently wrote to Satpal Maharaj about OROP, said that this matter came up for the first time in 1982 and late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had agreed to it.
A 10-MP committee submitted its recommendation of giving OROP to the PM in December 2011, on which an Action Taken Report had to be submitted by the PM in March this year in Parliament, which is not yet done.
8 August is when the Committee of Secretaries was supposed to have submitted its report, but it is delayed.
Former Army Chief V.P. Malik said, "I am disappointed as this is a committee comprising only of civil service officers and no one from armed forces. There does not seem to be much hope from this Committee's report."
The demands of ex-servicemen, especially OROP will benefit 24 lakh ex-servicemen and four lakh widows drawing family pensions, all across the country and would cost approximately Rs 1300 cr to the exchequer.

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