Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Navy Chief takes pay panel anomalies to Chidambaram

The armed forces have now taken the battle over the Sixth Pay Commission right to Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Minister of State in the Prime Ministers Office (PMO) Prithviraj Chavan, seeking their direct intervention in restoring their parity with their civilian and paramilitary counterparts.

The armed forces wanted the cabinet, rather than the anomalies committee of the Finance Ministry, to consider the matter. The cabinet following the assurance of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is likely to take up the core issues of the armed forces at its meeting on Thursday.

Navy Chief and the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC), Admiral Sureesh Mehta, met the Union ministers on Tuesday to tell the grievances of the armed forces and anomalies in the Sixth Pay Panels recommendations, said a Defence Ministry official.

Earlier, Amiral Mehta met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to apprise him about the grievances of armed forces with the August 29 gazette notification of new pay scales.

Admiral Mehta, in his position as the CoSC, wrote a letter to Defence Minister A.K. Antony on September 1 urging that the parity between the armed forces and paramilitary and bureaucracy be immediately restored.

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 armed forces have 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.

The services are also angry at the fact that all Directors General of Police and their equivalents have been placed over Lt-Generals by the creation of a new higher administrative grade-plus.

The lowering of status of Lt-Colonels and their equivalent ranks in IAF (Wing Commander) and Navy (Commander), who constitute the bulk of the fighting force among officers, is really hurting the morale of forces.

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