Chidambaram said the government would transfer Rs 500 crore to the defence pension account for implementing the ‘one rank, one pension scheme’.

The decision, which is likely to benefit around three million defence pensioners, will come into effect from 2014-2015.

The Finance Minister said the two UPA governments had made changes in the pension rules for defence services on three occasions but some gaps remained in the ranks of 'Sepoy' and 'Naik' among non-officers and 'Major' and above among officers.

"We need a young fighting force, we need young jawans and we need young officers. We also need to take care of those who served in the defence forces only for a limited numbers of years. The government has therefore decided to walk the last mile and closed the gap for all retirees in all ranks," he announced.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had last week backed the demand and assured a delegation of ex-servicemen that he will make all efforts to ensure that it is met at the earliest.

"I am on your side. I understand your concerns. You give your life for the country, I will do all that I can to see that your demands are met," Gandhi told a gathering of 1000-odd ex-servicemen during an interaction on February 14.

Delegations of ex-servicemen from Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab had met the Congress vice-president.

‘One rank, one pension’ will ensure that soldiers of the same rank and the same length of service receive the same pension irrespective of their retirement date.

MPs welcome announcement of 'one rank, one pension'

Cutting across party lines, several Members of Parliament welcomed the ‘one rank, one pension’ announcement.

“It was a very very genuine demand,” Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh said.

He said Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi had also spoken to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh favouring the demand.

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP BJ Panda said, “I welcome the 'one rank, one pension' announcement. This is something that has been demanded for a decade.”

Hailing the decision, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP Raghuvansh Prasad said, “Though the budget has offered nothing for the poor, the ‘one rank, one pension’ announcement was a good one and we support it.”

“There was a long standing demand for it and the government was not acting on it. It is good that it has been done now,” he added.

Janata Dal (United) leader KC Tyagi also welcomed the ‘one rank, one pension’ scheme.

“There is no question of opposing it,” he said.

(JPN/Agencies)

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