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Monday, December 22, 2008

Govt agrees to most of the armed forces' pay hike demands

While rejecting uniform grade pay for military officers on par with their civilian counterparts, the government seems to have more or less agreed to the other three demands of armed forces over their new revised pay scales.

The "decision'' of the three-member ministerial committee, headed by foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee, is to be officially announced in the next few days.

Sources, however, said there were indications the government had given the go-ahead to the elevation of Lt-Colonel rank officers to a higher pay scale; placement of a majority of Lt-Generals in the new "higher administrative grade-plus'' with police DGPs; and restoration of the reduction in pension for jawans.

The government, however, has apparently rejected the fourth "core demand'' of granting uniform grade pay to officers of armed forces on par with civilian officers, said sources.

As reported earlier by TOI, the armed forces blame "bureaucratic subversion'' for introducing "far more serious anomalies'' in their pay scales rather than resolving the ones present in the 6th Pay Commission report.

The armed forces, in fact, hold that their extant parity with their civilian and paramilitary counterparts had been "destroyed'' by the new pay scales. They were particularly upset over the "extant parity'' of Lt-Col rank officers being 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 "lowering of status'' of Lt-Cols and their equivalent ranks in IAF (Wing Commander) and Navy (Commander) hit the armed forces the most since they constitute the bulk of the fighting force among officers. Almost 18,950 of the 54,770 officers in the forces, after all, are Lt-Col rank officers.