Ex-servicemen on Saturday announced that they would go on a hunger strike from June 15 as the government has failed to commit a timeline for the implementation of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme.
A group of 15 representatives from various ex-servicemen organisations met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in the morning but were not able to get a date by which the scheme will be implemented, after which the retired defence personnel decided to go ahead with their planned rally on June 14 followed by a relay hunger strike to protest the long delay in implementation of the scheme.
“Though Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar understood our problem and argument, he did not give any date for the implementation of the OROP and hence we are going ahead with our agitation,” Maj Gen Satbir Singh, chairman of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) told PTI.
Later in the day, about 150 veterans representing 20-odd ex-servicemen organisations deliberated upon the matter at the Constitution Club. “We have unanimously decided to go ahead with the agitation on June 14 at Jantar Mantar. Starting June 15 we will go on an indefinite hunger strike till the government announces the date of implementation of OROP,” Gandhi said. They will also hold rallies in 50 cities across the country.
OROP, which means equal pension for officers, men retiring at the same rank and with equal length of service, has been approved in principle by the government. But the file has been shuttling between Finance Ministry and Defence Ministry for the finalisation of financial allocation. Last month, two war veterans refused to be felicitated by the Defence Minister to convey their displeasure over the non-implementation of OROP.
Even though the government has said it is committed to implementing OROP, there has been no official clarification on why the scheme is delayed. Defence Ministry sources said that the OROP file is lying with the Finance Ministry for a final budgetary approval.
Parrikar has repeatedly said that the government has completed all formalities and OROP will be implemented soon.
“Since December last, we have met Parrikar four times and every time he said it would be implemented in a week or so,” Singh said at the conclave.
The Army chief, while addressing ex-servicemen on March 14, had said that OROP would be approved latest by April 30.