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Hike in veterans’ benefits

New Delhi, Dec. 18: The defence ministry will hike the post-retirement benefits of veteran soldiers from January, nearly three months after the cabinet set aside Rs 2,300 crore for the purpose.

Defence minister A.K. Antony told the consultative committee attached to his ministry that “improving the pensionary and medical benefits for ex-servicemen are subjects of prime concern” and that orders hiking pensions will be issued next month.

The cabinet decided to hike the benefits in September after veteran soldiers demanded “one rank one pension”.

The benefits will go to commissioned officers who have served for 20 years and to personnel below officer rank (PBOR) who have served in the military for at least 15 years. An estimated 14 lakh veterans and their families will benefit.

The benefits would translate into a hike of Rs 350-500 per month for each soldier who was PBOR and Rs 1,400-4,000 for every retired officer.

Antony told the consultative committee that this was the third time in four years that the government has hiked post-retirement benefits for veteran soldiers.

He said the government was also simplifying access to medical care by opening more clinics through the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme, begun in April 2003.