Friday, 29 May 2015

PM Narendra Modi reviews implementation of key issues of ex-servicemen

By Aman Sharma, ET Bureau | 28 May, 2015, 05.34AM IST

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar to make a presentation to him regarding the pension issues of ex-servicemen while the health ministry has been told to explore not insisting on a plethora of documents but rather use Aadhaar to reissue CGHS cards 

Modi chaired his third interaction through PRAGATI — the ICT-based, multimodal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation — on Wednesday, where he reviewed the implementation of key issues pertaining to ex-servicemen.

"Expressing serious concern at the perceived atmosphere of indifference with regard to issues pertaining to ex-servicemen such as delay in pension and retirement benefits, the prime minister directed the concerned authorities to pay more attention to their resolution at the earliest," an official statement from the Prime Minister's Office said. Sources told ET the PM said some "systematic changes" may be required with regard to welfare and problems of ex-servicemen and asked the defence secretary to give him a presentation on it soon.

The prime minister's intervention could be crucial as for the past several years the biggest grievance of exservicemen is the non-implementation of their demand for One Rank One Pension — that all officers and soldiers of equal seniority should be given the same pension, no matter when they retired.

The OROP issue is fast becoming a political hot potato for the BJP-led government that had promised its implementation during the election campaign but the issue has not been resolved. A major rally in planned in New Delhi next week by ex-servicemen organisations to protest nonimplementation of OROP. While Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar recently said the matter has been cleared and sent to the finance ministry, raising hopes of an announcement, but it now appears the finance ministry has again asked the defence ministry for some clarifications, in what could delay the matter even further.

At the PRAGATI meeting, the health ministry was told to explore not insisting on a host of address and identity documents afresh while re-issuing CGHS (Central Government 
Health Service) cards to government servants in Delhi. The health ministry is in the process of re-issuing lakhs of CGHS cards upon expiry of their validity and informed the PM that they would be re-issuing nearly three lakh CGHS cards in the next 45 days.

Sources told ET that the PM suggested that the ministry could rely on Aadhaar numbers to reissue CGHS cards since details of officials are mostly already seeded into the UIDAI platform. The ministry was asked to revert back to the  PMO within 10 days on the prospect, sources said. "Reviewing the quality of service under CGHS, the PM gave clear directions to the departments concerned to resolve pending issues and grievances at the earliest," the PMO statement said.

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