Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Navy chief meets Finance Minister on anomalies in 6th Pay Commission

Khabrein.Info News Desk,

New Delhi, Sept 11, 2008: After meeting Defence Minister AK Antony and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh Indian Navy chief Suresh Mehta met Finance Minister on the issue of anomalies in the 6th Pay Commission.

The Navy chief has been campaigning for ending the anomalies that have crept in the pay structure of mid level armed forces officials viz a viz civilian officials.

The Navy Chief Admiral Suresh Mehta is not alone in taking a firm stand on the issue, Indian Army chief and Indian Air Force Chif too have voiced concern against the anomalies, reasoning that it will severely affect the morale of the armed forces if its officials were discriminated.

Admiral Suresh Mehta is also Chairman of the Chief of Staffs Committee

The Navy chief’s meeting with Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Prithviraj Chavan in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is seen as taking the issue further forward. Earlier finance ministry had discounted any possibility of the revision in the Sixth Pay Commission. The revision will entail an extra expenditure of more than rupees 250 crore.

The three main issues are alleged disparities in the pay structure of officers of rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and equivalent in the armed forces vis-à-vis their civilian counterparts in the bureaucracy, disparities in grade pay between armed forces officers and their civilian counterparts and creation of a separate higher administrative grade plus (HAG plus) grade which, armed forces officers say, accentuates disparities in pay structure.

The main grouse of the forces revolves around the fact that the ‘‘extant parity’’ of Lt-Colonel rank officers has been lowered by retaining them in Pay Band-3 (Rs 15,600-39,100), while raising similarly placed civilians and paramilitary officers to PB-4 (Rs 37,400-67,000). The forces have also sought restoration of parity in grade pay for lower and middle rung Service officers with their civilian counterparts, who are going to get more as per the new pay scales.

Lieutenant colonels make a large number of Army officers and their equivalent in Navy and Air Force. Reports say that the additional cost of placing such officers in the higher pay band will work out to Rs 230 crore annually.

The armed forces chiefs are worried that he anomalies in the pay structure of armed forces officials viz a viz civilian officials can deter many bright young men from joining the armed forces in the future.

Even now there is a big gap of officials in the armed forces and the gap is increasing. The sort of talent that the army requires at officers level can easily get several time higher pay package than they actually get in the armed forces in India.

Former armed forces chief General (Rtd) NC Vij had criticized the original Sixth pay recommendations calling it inadequate. In a letter written to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Sigh he had said, “ As a former chief, I feel morally duty-bound to bring this fact to the notice of the Hon'ble Prime Minister in my personal capacity. I take heart from the fact, that it is under your leadership, that, in my tenure, the government went for a major improvement in the 'operational posture by sanctioning South Western Command and 9 Corps HQs with full complements and also for some restoration of self esteem of the young officers through addressing their delayed promotions-cum-service conditions, by approving Part 1 of Ajay Vikram Singh Committee report'…If this had been followed up, through a balanced PCR and implementation of Part II of the 'AVS Report', things would have reasonably improved, but unfortunately the very opposite has happened.”

Stressing on the plight of army personnel he further said, “Sir, you yourself hail from a state, which has traditionally produced soldiers. You would have often wondered, as to why a supremely fit jawan/JCO who retires at the young age of 42-48, ages and grows old so fast. It is because he has no resources to fall back upon to ensure a decent living for his family after his early retirement. This problem gets further accentuated with the constraints of even poor farming conditions. Why should a soldier retire at this early age (other services serve upto 60 years) and why this man who has served the Nation so valiantly not be given a second career by way of 'lateral transfer', which alas will never come about”.

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