A day after the indefinite hunger strike over 'One Rank One Pension' (OROP) was withdrawn, ex-servicemen on Monday said the agitation will continue till "anomalies" in the scheme are removed, and the indefinite fast may even resume if the issues are not sorted out.
"The agitation will continue till the government rectifies the anomalies in the scheme. If they don't rectify it, the indefinite fast may also return," spokesperson for the United Ex-Servicemen Movement, Col. Anil Kaul (retd), said.
"We thank the government of India for finally making OROP a reality, after a wait of 42 years. But this is only the beginning, it has not been completely resolved," he said.
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Meanwhile, with confusion surrounding who among the retirees will get the benefits of One Rank, One Pension, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar Monday asked all those
concerned to wait for the final order, which will "explain it properly".
"You have to wait for the final order (on OROP) which will come. Why is there so much excitement till then? The PM has made it amply clear that those who are being allowed to
retire through proper procedure will not be (adversely) impacted. You need to wait for the exact wording," he told reporters on the sidelines of an Engineers' Conclave.
He also clarified that the concept of 'Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) does not exist in the Armed Forces.
"In the Armed Forces even if you apply, you may not get voluntary retirement, unlike (in) civilian (service), where you can get it. In the Armed Forces, you can be refused. There
are many people who because of health reasons apply and the Armed Forces also want them to retire and, if that happens before the minimum service requirement, then they don't get pension.
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"We will explain this properly, no one should unnecessarily create confusion on it," Parrikar said. Parrikar said many things needed to be considered before Rs 8000 crore is sanctioned for implementing OROP.
"A lot of things have to be considered before sanctioning Rs 8,000 crore...it is not a matter of Rs 8. There were a lot of issues involved with it, why blame someone? It is very
easy to say that give it (money), but when one has to give the money, it is not easy," he said.
He was asked whether differences between bureaucracy and the political leadership had delayed the announcement. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had yesterday said those who
had had to quit the defence forces prematurely would also be entitled to OROP benefits.
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The indefinite fast by a group of veterans, some on whom started it on August 17, ended on the 21st day on Sunday after Prime Minister Narendra Modi clarified that soldiers who retire prematurely will benefit from implementation of OROP.
According to the veterans, 46 percent of ex-servicemen opt for premature retirement.
Excluding them would have slashed the OROP budget by 50 percent -- about Rs.4,000 crore of the estimated Rs.8,000-10,000 crore.
The veterans have said the agitation will continue for now, as different channels of talks remain open between the government and the ex-servicemen.
Col. Kaul told IANS that there will be a meeting of the core group of veterans on Wednesday.
"Communication channels with the government are on," he said.
After Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar announced the scheme on Saturday, the veterans said they had several objections to what was announced, the biggest being the exclusion of those taking early retirement.
However, it was later clarified by the government that those taking premature retirement will not be excluded.
Other issues that have been objected to by the veterans include five years as time of review of pensions, while the veterans have said two years was the maximum period they can agree to for review.
The veterans have also questioned the decision to form a one-member committee.
"What will a one-member committee do? It does not make sense... The committee must have our representation," Col. Kaul added.
Monday was the 85th day of the agitation at the Jantar Mantar protest site.
The estimated cost to the exchequer for the scheme will be Rs.8,000-10,000 crore, and the arrears will amount to around Rs.12,000 crore. It will take 2013 as the base year to calculate pensions and the date of implementation will be July 1, 2014.
(With Inputs From Agencies)