28 Aug, 2015, 05.40PM IST, NEW DELHI: Much to the disappointment of the protesting ex-servicemen, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said "small gaps" still required to be filled for implementation of 'One Rank One Pension' (OROP) and that the PMO was "directly involved" in finding a resolution.
Unhappy with the prolonged delay by the Government in setting a timeframe for OROP, the veterans decided to boycott the today's golden jubilee celebrations of the 1965 war with Pakistan.
"The government is working to fill in the small gaps" and the PMO is "directly involved" in dealing with the OROP issue, Parrikar told reporters said on the sidelines of a function here.
He also asked for some time to be given to resolve the issue.
"Now the small gaps are being filled. Give it some time for completion. In principle, the Prime Minister on August 15 (Independence Day Speech) has given his approval. Now, PMO is directly involved...then by saying that do it in these many days will not help.
"All efforts are being made to solve the issue," he said.
Parrikar's statement did not go down well with the protesters who said they are "disheartened". They are also seeking an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"What Raksha Mantri said, I'm rather disheartened. He is now saying that there are gaps. He cannot say anything that is totally different than what was told to us all these days," Maj Gen Satbir Singh (Retd), Chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement said.
He said whatever the government has offered till now is not acceptable.
"Whatever they have finally offered is not acceptable to us. Yesterday what was told to us is nowhere close to the definition" that had been decided and accepted by Parliament," he said.
He said that the ex-servicemen have rejected government's offer to increase pension every five years instead of doing it annually.
"They were saying it will be done after five years which is totally incorrect because it will defeat the very definition of OROP," Satbir said.
He said the veterans have requested a meeting with the Prime Minister.
"I am sure Prime Minister is the last word and he had assured us. We have full faith in him. In case he meets us and we tell him the correct position, all the wrong information fed by the babus would be thrown away and what is right will be accepted and he will give us OROP in totality," Satbir said.
Asked if the veterans are going to give an ultimatum, he said they are soldiers and hence don't believe in giving ultimatums.
"If Prime Minister says that give us another 1 or 2 days, 5 days, 1 week or 10 days... anything but let him look into our eyes and say so," he said.
Army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag had yesterday met representativces of ex-servicemen at his South Block office but there was "no forward movement", they later said.
"We met the Army chief but there has been no forward movement. We are firm on our stand that the base year has to be 2013-14 and that payment should begin from April 1, 2014. OROP should not be left to the 7th Pay Commission and the definition has to be the same as accepted by the Parliament," Satbir said.
The government wants 2011 to be the base year besides no three per cent annual increase. It also wants payment to begin from April 1, 2015, which has been rejected by the veterans.
Close to 22 lakh retired servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be the immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for the defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.
Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations of the time when he or she retired. So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws less pension than a Lieutenant Colonel who retired after 1996.
Source:- The Economic Times