The suicide by retired Army subedar Ram Kishen Grewal (70) here on Tuesday has stirred the Defence Ministry to speed up removal of discrepancies in the One-Rank-One-Pension (OROP) scheme.
Concerned over his death, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has ordered immediate action by the Defence Pension Department on the report submitted only last week by Justice (Retd) L Narsimha Reddy. He wants all recommendations of Justice Reddy-headed panel implemented within one month.
Sources in the ministry said the pension department has been asked to coordinate with the Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare, which remains in live contacts with ex-servicemen’s organisations and which is the first point of complaints for redressal of grievances of the retired personnel.
The ministry had constituted the panel headed by Justice Reddy to consider the grievances of ex-servicemen even after implementation of the OROP scheme. The panel had held public hearing of the ex-servicemen, their families and associations in 20 cities and towns across the country. It also studied more than 700 memoranda received and incorporated in the report.
The key recommendation of the panel is to fix the minimum pension to the ex-servicemen, which is equivalent to the starting salary of a soldier, which is around Rs 20,000 per month. It noted that thousands of defence personnel
who had retired before 1980 were still getting a pension between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000 per month, which was too little compared to the services they rendered for the country’s defence.
The panel has noted that better pension to ex-soldiers under the OROP scheme would not put any big burden on the exchequer as their numbers were only in thousands. Ministry sources said deceased Grewal had a genuine grievance that he had not yet got the benefit of the 7th Central Pay Commission recommendations. The ministry decided to implement the recommendations belatedly only last month and as such, the new pensions were still being worked out, they said.