It will look into common pay scale for Junior Commissioned Officers, other ranks

Nearly a fortnight after the new Army Chief, General Bikram Singh, listed welfare of ex-servicemen and war widows as his top priority, the government on Friday announced the setting up of a five-member committee, to be headed by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, to look into pay and pension-related issues of defence services personnel and ex-servicemen.

The committee’s terms of reference will be to look into the issues of ex-servicemen, which mainly relate to their long-pending demand of one-rank, one pension, enhancement of family pension, dual family pension and family pension to mentally or physically-challenged children of the armed forces personnel on marriage.

So far as defence services personnel are concerned, the committee will look into issues relating to common pay-scale for in-service Junior Commissioned Officers and other ranks, initial pay-fixation of Lt.Col/Colonel and Brigadier/equivalent ranks, review and enhancement of grade pay, placing of all Lt. Generals in HAG-plus scale and grant of non-functional upgradation (NFU) to armed forces personnel.

The high-power committee will comprise the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister; the Defence Secretary; the Secretary, Department of Expenditure; the Secretary, Department of Ex-Servicemen’s Welfare; and Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training; as members, according to an official release.

The Department of Expenditure will finalise its recommendations and submit its report to the Prime Minister by August 8, 2012, it added.

While addressing an ex-servicemen’s rally in Pathankot — his first after taking over as Army Chief, General Bikram Singh said the government and the Army were sensitive to the needs of ex-servicemen and their families would be well looked after.

Defence veterans, cut up over issues of pension, had recently written to the Prime Minister and threatened to intensify their four-year agitation for one rank, one pension.

Maj. Gen. (retd.) Satbir Singh, vice-chairman of the Indian Ex-servicemen Movement, had pointed out in his letter that lower level bureaucrats sent routine replies without going into the details of the ex-servicemen’s grievances over the issue of one rank, one pension.

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