Defence forces up in arms against 7th pay panel proposals

Business Economy
(Last Updated On: January 6, 2016)

NEW DELHI: Weeks after the Seventh Central Pay Commission submitted its report, the armed forces are readying to sound the bugle of protest. Unhappy with the recommendations, a high-level triservices meeting on Thursday identified issues of immediate concern that the military brass will take up with the government. At the meeting at Air Headquarters, it was also decided the three forces will project a united front. “Often, the three services are divided in their demands, which makes it tougher to obtain a redress. We don’t want to turn this into a fight among the services,” a source privy to the deliberations told ET.

Ashortlist of key issues was agreed upon at the meeting, which would be presented in the form of a written submission soon. This includes pending concerns from the previous pay commission that defence officials claim have again been overlooked. The growing sensitivity around the subject also found mention at the Navy Day press meet of Navy Chief Admiral Robin Dhowan, who refrained from getting into any details but did indicate that there could be some thorny issues. “Whatever we feel is a shortcoming for our men and our officers is indeed being taken up with the ministry (of defence),” he said. Sources, however, told ET that while officials in the armed forces have several problems with the pay commission recommendations, some quite technical, there is a consensus on four broad issues:

1) Hardship-Risk Allowance: Currently, the armed forces are granted allowances based on a risk and hardship matrix with the highest allowance ofRs 31,500 per month going to those posted in Siachen. The armed forces were keen to see the pay commission grant them the option of a Special Disturbance Allowance (SDA), which is accorded to their counterparts in civil services and paramilitary forces. This amount is upwards of Rs 54,000 per month. So, military officials claim, an officer from any of the civil services posted at Leh will end up drawing a higher allowance than an army officer of the same grade posted in Siachen.

2) Disability Pension: The armed forces have various slabs for the grant of disability pension while for the paramilitary forces it’s calculated as a percentage of the basic salary. This, defence officials claim, leads to a discrepancy and the armed forces end up getting far less. The defence forces wanted the same system of calculation, but have not got a favourable recommendation. They now want it revised.

3) Parity with IPS: The armed forces feel the Seventh Pay Commission has lowered their status compared with the Indian Police Service in terms of promotions and increments. “We have always been on a par with IPS. But now, if you look at their timely increments after the completion of four, nine and 13 years of service, we have lost out,” said an official involved in the deliberations.

4) Residual anomalies overlooked: Armed forces say leftover anomalies from the previous pay commission have not been addressed despite an express assurance. The only issue partly addressed was that of non-functional upgradation relating to assured promotions up to a certain level.

As the finer details are looked at more closely, military sources said, the resentment is growing within the three services especially as it comes on the back of the anger around the ‘One Rank, One Pension’ agitation. The government, meanwhile, is keeping its cards close to its chest.

Read full article: Economic Times

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