Modi government lies in Parliament on ‘One Rank, One Pension’

The Modi government has said in Parliament they have implemented the One Rank, One Pension. Ex-servicemen disagree. They say the government is lying

Modi government lies in Parliament on ‘One Rank, One Pension’

Ashlin Mathew

The government has once again lied about having implemented the One Rank, One Pension in a response in Parliament. It has stated that the Government had issued orders on November 11, 2015, for implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) with effect from July 1, 2014.

In a response to Maharashtra BJP MP Gopal Chinnaya Shetty, the defence ministry under Rajnath Singh states that a sum of ₹10,795.40 crores has been released as arrears to Defence Forces Pensioners/Family Pensioners on account of implementation of OROP. Payment of arrears on account of implementation of OROP order dated November 7, 2011, is made from Defence Pension Budget Estimates. Out of total Pension Budget, there is no separate allocation/budgeting towards OROP.

Ex-servicemen disagree. They say the government is lying. What the NDA government has done is a one-time pension enhancement and they have not implemented OROP. “If OROP had been implemented then, there would not have been any difference in the salaries of a soldier who had retired in 2014 and in 2019. For a sepoy retiring on June 30, 2014 and a sepoy retiring now, the difference is approx ₹6,700 per month. Such discrepancies exist across all ranks. If OROP had been passed, then the difference would have automatically been passed to the soldier who had retired in 2014,” explains Major (retd.) Priyadarshi Choudhury.

According to the Koshiyari Committee, which was constituted in 2011 to look into the pension issue, ‘One Rank, One Pension’ has been defined as the payment of the same pension to military officers for the same rank for the same length of service, irrespective of the date of retirement. It was also mentioned that later increments would be automatically added.

But, as is the norm, the BJP is twisting the meaning and facts. When the NDA government had come to power, they had adopted this same definition as given by the Koshiyari Committee. On December 2, 2014, to a question by BJP MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, BJP government had given the same definition. But, when the government decided to implement the OROP, they said, future changes in salary will not be given to retired soldiers automatically, instead they said equalisation of salaries will happen periodically. The period was fixed as five years. “This is nothing but, one rank, five pensions,” quipped Major General Satbir Singh, in an interview earlier.

The NDA government had also stated that all future retirees are not eligible for OROP. “This also points to the fact that the BJP government has not implemented OROP. This is not acceptable,” said Major Choudhury.

The government had appointed a One Member Judicial Committee (OMJC) on OROP under Justice Narasimha Reddy to look at anomalies arising out of their skewed implementation of OROP. This report was submitted in 2016. “And even now after three years, the report is under consideration. What is the government doing for three years with a report,” asks Major Choudhury.

Additionally, in the response, the ministry of defence has stated that ₹10,795.40 crore was set aside for OROP from 2015 to 2018. “This means that both the previous defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and finance minister Piyush Goyal has lied. Goyal in his budget speech on February 3, 2019, had states that his government had “disbursed over ₹35,000 crore after implementing the scheme in its true spirit. This was then repeated by Nirmala Sitharaman on March 9, 2019, who also stated that the Modi government had already transferred ₹35,000 crore to the account of former army servicemen in the last three years since its announcement in 2016.

“All of these are lies. We have done the calculations and we know that only ₹8,300 cr was required to implement the OROP. The notification of November 2015 entails a disbursement of ₹5,500 crores. This mismatch is a clear indication of non implementation of OROP,” adds Major Choudhury.

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Published: 26 Jun 2019, 5:24 PM