Pay panel proposals widen civil and military gulf

In the military fraternity, which is already peeved over discrepancies in implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP), recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission (SPC) have raised further hackles.

After analysing the pay structures of civil and military officials over time the SPC observed in its report that, “In fact the pay of defence service officers remains uninterruptedly higher for a thirty-two year period. Thereafter pay of defence and civil service officers are at par.”

However several officers pointed that the committee’s recommendations are based on the officer cadre who constitute 3-4 per cent of the 1.3-million Army. They also said that there are about 50 military allowances, compared to about 90 for civilian officials.

Hardship allowance is paid to defence forces for serving in forward locations and in extremely hard conditions. It has been fixed at a maximum of Rs. 31,500 per month for those serving on Siachen glacier – the world’s battlefield.

SDA allowance

On the other hand, civil servants who are posted in Jammu & Kashmir and the North East region are paid a Special Duty Allowance (SDA) which was recommended at 30 per cent of their basic pay for postings which are mostly district headquarters. Due to this, in many cases, the SDA can be higher than the hardship allowance of officers.

For instance a Colonel posted at Siachen gets a fixed allowance of Rs. 31,500 while his equivalent in the bureaucracy, a Director level officer, draws upwards of Rs. 50,000 as SDA. Also as the SDA is a percentage of the basic pay it increases over time. This has drawn severe criticism from the both serving and retired military personnel.

“Above disadvantages to defence forces is directly attributed to the absence of military members in the CPC. Our Chiefs had strongly asked for the same which was not accepted,” said Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd.), Chairman of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement which has been spearheading the agitation for rightful implementation of OROP.

Demand for NFU

Demand for NFU by the armed forces is a very old one. They have been demanding NFU with effect from Sixth Pay commission to bridge gap in civil and military pay.

However, the Sixth Pay Commission had granted NFU to most Group ‘A’ officers but not the military. The SPC once again has not been taken a decision on this as members in the committee were divided in their opinion.

NFU essentially allows officers who are not promoted to draw the salary of higher ranks or pay grades, as their batch mates are promoted.

In addition, the much talked about ‘entitled rations’ for military personnel have been cut down. Entitled rations for personnel in peace stations has been withdrawn.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 8:28:42 AM |

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