The allotment of Rs. 1,000 crore for implementing ‘One Rank, One Pension’ (OROP) scheme for armed personnel in the Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday has elicited a thumbs up from retired armed forces men. OROP took a long time coming and it will bring justice to scores of armed forces personnel struggling with meagre pensions.
The decision to implement OROP scheme was first announced by former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. In the UPA interim budget in February this year, Mr. Chidambaram also allocated Rs. 500 crore. However, much to the disappointment of services personnel and thanks to bureaucratic delays, the actual implementation of the scheme got delayed.
“All over India, the armed forces personnel, especially those who retired, were demanding one rank, one pension scheme for the past seven years. The government has finally brought some closure to this issue by allocating Rs. 1,000 crore. This scheme will definitely bring uniformity in pay scales,” said Sainik Welfare Officer, Hyderabad district, Praveen Kumar.
One rank, one pension means that retired soldiers of the same rank and length of service will now receive the same pension, regardless of when they retire. At present, pensioners who retired before 2006 draw less pension than their counterparts and even their juniors. “When I retired as Sergeant in 1985, my pension was close to Rs. 3,000. However, these days, if anybody retires as a Sergeant, the pension is huge. After implementation of OROP, this disparity will go,” says Veera Raghavulu, a retired IAF sergeant.
The Sainik Welfare Officer said the gap between past pensioners and those who have retired recently was ever increasing. “Successive pay commissions enhanced salaries of armed personnel but they always did it prospectively. The hikes in salaries were not passed on to retired personnel. Now, justice has been done,” Mr. Praveen Kumar said. Nearly 24 lakh pensioners of armed forces in India and 12,000 in Hyderabad district are expected to benefit from OROP.