The first instalment of the One Rank One Pension scheme (OROP), amounting to nearly Rs 5,500 crore, has been paid according to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The prime minister made the announcement on Sunday when he was celebrating Diwali with soldiers at Sumdo, Kinnaur district, Himachal Pradesh.
"I promised OROP when I was PM candidate, and unfortunately those in power at that time did not even know what exactly it was," ANI quoted Modi as saying.
Early on Sunday, Modi dedicated Diwali to the armed forces and also lauded their sacrifices and saluted their valour during his weekly Mann Ki Baat radio address.
"Spent time with our courageous @ITBP_official & Army Jawans at Sumdo, Kinnaur district, Himachal Pradesh. Jai Jawan! Jai Hind!," he tweeted.
OROP, which been a persistent demand of the Indian armed forces, mandates that retired soldiers of the same rank, who have retired after serving for the same length of time, will receive the same amount of pension, irrespective of the date and year of the retirement.
"The OROP was not about just Rs 200 or Rs 500 crore, but Rs 10,000 crore... After I became the PM, and decided that I had to do (implement) it, the entire government lost sleep over it... It was not possible for the government to pay in one go, so I requested the ex-servicemen to accept it in four instalments."
"The money will reach them in four installments. Nearly, Rs 5,500 crore has been paid as the first installment," Modi said.
He said the issue had been hanging on fire for "40 years," and therefore "only Rs 500 crore was allocated" for the purpose.
Modi also made an unscheduled trip to the Chango village and said he was "deeply touched by the impromptu reception and their joy."
Dressed in olive green, the Prime Minister interacted with men from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the Dogra Scouts and the army at Sumdoh. Sumdoh, which is about 330 km from Shimla, is located on the border of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts.
"The Prime Minister spent time with ITBP jawans and personnel of Dogra Scouts of army at Sumdo on border of Kinnaur and Spiti, and distributed sweets to them," an official said.
Modi also met the personnel of the General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF), a branch of Border Roads Organisation (BRO), entrusted with construction and maintenance of border roads and also executing the Rohtang Tunnel project, the official said.