In a significant decision, the Union Cabinet under Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 23 approved the revision of the ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP) scheme for defence personnel and family pensioners. The arrears will be effective from July 01, 2019, benefiting 25 lakh beneficiaries.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said the decision would lead to enhanced pension according to the OROP proposal. The benefit would also be extended to family pensioners, including war widows and disabled pensioners.
The Ministry of Defence also said that the pension of the past pensioners would be fixed again based on the average of minimum and maximum pensions of defence forces retirees of the calendar year 2018 in the same rank with the same length of service. Moreover, arrears will be paid in four half-yearly instalments.
However, all the family pensioners, including those in receipt of special/liberalised family pension and gallantry award winners, shall be paid arrears in one instalment.
The centre also decided to make rations available for free, not just on subsidised rates, to those covered under the National Food Security Act at least until December next year. The decision, essentially, is to subsume under the Act the current free-ration scheme Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana started in 2020 after Covid affected livelihoods. Notably, it covers about 80 crore people.
Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal announced the decision, saying that the Yojana had been in effect for 28 months. Under the National Food Security Act, rice is available at Rs 3 a kg, and wheat at Rs 2, apart from other rations. The new decision on the food scheme will cost the government Rs 2 lakh crore for a year.
Around 81.35 crore people covered under the NFSA will get food grains for free. Those who used to get 35 kg (21 kg rice and 14 kg wheat) under the Annadata yojana will continue to get it for free. Other people will get 5 kg per person for free.