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We believe in action, not mere tokenism: Sitharaman

DEHRADUN: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said the Narendra Modi government has been able to resolve vexed issues related to the welfare of the armed forces because it believes in real action rather than mere tokenism.

“Issues like one rank one pension (OPOP) or a national war memorial which had been hanging fire for decades were picked up and resolved at the initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi because we believe in real action and not in mere tokenism like previous governments,” Sitharaman said addressing ex-servicemen and family members of soldiers who had died fighting for the country.

As announced by Union Minister Piyush Goel in Parliament, while Rs 35,000 crore have already been paid to the beneficiaries under OROP, an annual budgetry provision of Rs 8,000 crore has been made for payments under OROP in the interim budget, she said adding “this is what happens when real action replaces mere tokenism”.

“It was a huge task which was accomplished despite all odds in two years. So far all arrears under OROP have been paid in four instalments,” she said.

Alleging that lies are being spread through social media platforms to mislead the armed forces about welfare measures related to them, she said if they have any doubt about a scheme, they should ask her directly through email or their MPs.

Citing another example to buttress her argument about the government being serious about issues pending for decades, she said the country did not have a national war memorial despite fighting four major wars since independence.

“The Modi government dedicated a national war memorial to the country last month. What could not happen in 70 years, has been done in five years,” she said.

Claiming that the Centre was sensitive to problems faced by armed forces personnel, the Defence Minister said it has been decided to give women permanent commission in the Army, Navy and the Air Force like their male counterparts.

Three 200-bed multi speciality hospitals like AIIMS are going to be opened under the ex-servicemen contributory health scheme (ECHS) while the minimum pension for retired armed forces personnel has been revised from Rs 10,000 to Rs 18,000.

She said her ministry had also decided not to go in appeal if the Armed Forces Tribunal certified disability of a soldier.

“Those busy spreading myths on the social media platforms about schemes related to the armed forces should look straight into our eyes if they have the guts and ask us what is it that we did not do,” she said.

The Minister also said coming to Uttarakhand is always a great experience for her as it is the land of brave soldiers who don’t hesitate in laying down their lives for the sake of their country.

“I derive great motivation from the people of Uttarakhand. It has such a character. Not only its men but its women too are equally brave. Its women fought for statehood while its men guarded the country’s frontiers,” she said.

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