Increase In Retirement Age, Scrapping Of Colonial Bungalows: Gen Rawat's Plan To Reduce Burden Of Pension Cost To Exchequer
Gen Rawat’s move could actually end up helping around 4,00,000 non-combatants staying in service for a longer period, and saving around Rs 4,000 crore in pension cost.
Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat is in discussion with three services chiefs on the reduction in increasing pension cost to the exchequer. Reportedly, the plan is to gradually increase the retirement age of some non-combatants, generating internal resources for military housing in cantonments, and prioritising hardware purchases.
From ₹41,000 crore in 2010, the military pension budget is mounting to ₹1.33 lakh crore, or 0.5% of gross domestic product, in fiscal 2020-21. For the equalisation of pension under the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) scheme, ₹6,000-7,000 crore of expense is looming in June.
To cut the bill, Gen Rawat is known to be in favour of increasing the retirement age, some non-combatants and medical staff to 58 years from 39 to cut the bill.
The pension bills amounted to ₹1.13 lakh crore in 2019-2020. Gen Rawat's move could help around 4,00,000 non-combatants staying in service for a longer period, and saving around ₹4,000 crore in pension cost, with a plan that includes the retirement of 60 non-combatants at the age of 58 in each of the 450 infantry battalions. The same applies to armoured regiments.
In the military housing sector, the armed forces may generate their resources to fund projects that may make colonial bungalows give way to future vertical housing - a project called the "New Moti Bagh Model".
In lieu of compensation for acquiring cantonment lands, the CDS wants infrastructure agencies like the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to fund military housing projects (as per military specifications and under its monitoring)
The defence ministry is in support of the military's effort to generate ₹35,000 crore in the next seven to eight years.
"The days of Corps Commander living on a hill with a sprawling bungalow are over. Time has come for military commanders to stay in flats and in one building," Hindustan Times quoted a senior general as saying.
Focusing on the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the neighbourhood, Gen Rawat and three other service chiefs are now pushing for more indigenisation.
"The new aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is expected to be ready for sea trials this year and so is the nuclear ballistic missile submarine INS Arighat, India should dominate the IOR with active airbases on both Andaman and Nicobar Islands and soon to be extended Agatti airstrip at Lakshadweep by reclaiming land," Gen Rawat said.
"The first step is IOR, and then next is Indo-Pacific. The air force is ready to use Tejas fighter with top-of-the-line Rafale fighter deliveries to start this year. The army should be equipping its front-line troops with the best of assault rifles and ammunition," he added.
By the end of three years, these reforms are expected to set up separate theatre commands.