One Rank One Pension: Finance Ministry to take call
The Defence Ministry has arrived at a consensus formula of One Rank One Pension (OROP) with the defence forces and has referred the calculations to Finance Ministry for its decision. This was informed by the defence ministry to the parliamentary standing committee on defence.
In a scathing observation, the standing committee observed that the OROP “issue has been protracted for considerably long passage of time and it is beyond the understanding of the Committee as to what reasons are preventing the Government from making necessary decisions and arriving at a solution”.
“We are pursuing intensively with the Ministry of Finance also. Our target, naturally, is that these are the commitments of the Government. They have to be honoured as fast as possible,” the defence ministry told the standing committee.
In September 2013, Narendra Modi, in his first public rally after being made the NDA’s Prime Ministerial candidate, promised the implementation of OROP. The UPA government announced the implementation of OROP in the interim budget of 2014-15 and allotted Rs 500 crore towards it. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley reaffirmed the commitment by allotting Rs 1,000 crore in his first full budget last year.
Explaining the sequence of events, the defence ministry stated that meetings chaired by the then-defence minister, AK Antony were held in February and April last year where a Working Group chaired by the CGDA was set up. The Working Group could not arrive at any consensus and no clear recommendation was given in its report submitted on 26 May. Government then referred the implementation of OROP to a committee of secretaries. After intervention by the defence minister, Manohar Parrikar, the defence ministry has managed to reconcile the differences and has arrived at a formula.
The details of the formula are not mentioned in the report. However, it is believed that the problem of variations in rank and last pay drawn has been solved by creating standardised slabs for each rank with a certain length of service. Navdeep Singh, a lawyer in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and an expert on veterans’ issues, says, “Mr Parrikar has proactively ensured a consensus of all stakeholders as per the actual concept of OROP which broadly implies that the pensions of past retirees would be based upon the pensions of fresh retirees and revised periodically. OROP is likely to be applicable from 1st April 2014.”
Rs 54,500 crore have been allocated for defence pensions in this year’s budget. This is 9% more than the Rs 51,000 crore allocated last year.