Thursday, August 27, 2015

OROP deadlock likely to be resolved today

Update :  Ex-servicemen to meet Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar
In a fresh bid to break the One Rank One Pension impasse, representatives of ex-servicemen will be meeting Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday night. Defence sources said the meeting will take place in the minister's office in South Block to thrash out the differences.
Earlier News
Hopes are high for a resolution to the deadlock over increased pensions for veterans as early as Thursday but all demands put forward by ex-servicemen may not be met. While hectic negotiations are on, at least two sticking points still remain, including the question of arrears worth over Rs 12,000 crore that may have to be paid if the One Rank One Pension (OROP) demand is met with effect from April 2014.
While several 'solutions' are being suggested, the bigger sticking point seems to .be the annual increment of 3% in pensions that is being demanded by veterans. 
Discussions are likely to go on late Wednesday night with a possible announcement on Thursday, sources said. It is also learnt that while contemplating the issue from all angles, including fiscal prudence, the government may end up being more generous to soldiers than to officers, who draw higher pensions.

"Soldiers draw much lesser pensions and their condition on certain cases is pretty bad. The government is aware that theirs is a more pressing need," sources aware of discussions on the subject said. There is a danger however of veteran organisations leading the protest seeing any such move as a way of driving a wedge between retired soldiers and officers.

Veterans are also not budging from their demand that OROP has to be implemented with effect from April 2014, as was announced by the BJP government after it came to power.

On the question of arrears, a formula has been suggested by veterans in case the government is unable to pay up due to financial difficulties.

"There is a way out. War widows and veterans above the age of 80 be given arrears in cash while the rest can be issued government bonds in case the financial situations demands it. The government, however, should not go back on its promise of implementing it from April 2014," sources said. 

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