Thursday, September 25, 2008

Antony seeks PM’s intervention

Defence Minister A. K. Antony has sought the Prime Minister’s intervention to correct the anomalies in the pay scales of armed forces personnel, who have refused to accept the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations till the defects are rectified.

Mr. Antony has approached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the Finance Ministry turned down the armed forces’ demand for a review of the anomalies without assigning any reason, said informed sources.

The sources pointed out that the armed forces are so upset over the downgrading of certain key posts vis-À-vis their civilian counterparts that for the first time they are not implementing the revised pay scales recommended by a pay panel.

The salaries of all armed forces personnel for this month will be as per the previous pay panel’s recommendations, they said.

Mr. Antony, the sources said, was compelled to write to the Prime Minister after his missive of September 16 to the Finance Ministry did not elicit a satisfactory response. The Defence Minister on Tuesday said the services’ point of view was being examined by the government.

This is not the first request to the Prime Minister from the Defence Ministry. Earlier this month, Navy Chief and Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, wrote to Dr. Singh about lowering of the status of defence officers and men. This was preceded by a letter from the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen. Deepak Kapoor, to the President and ‘Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces,’ Pratibha Patil, raising the same issue.

The letters to the Prime Minister and the President reflect their disappointment with the bureaucratic mechanism to satisfactorily resolve the grievances of the armed forces personnel, said another source. “We are not going to settle for another committee comprising civilian officers. The government had set up a review committee of officers but they did not do anything. So we thought it was better to approach the political leadership directly,” he explained.

The armed forces want the resolution of four core issues but they are specifically agitated over the lower pay and downgrading in the warrant of precedence of Lieutenant Colonels (and equivalent), considered the backbone of the armed forces, and Higher Administrative Grade (HAG) plus for all Lieutenant Generals (and their equivalent in the other two services).

Source : The Hindu

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