Orders for hiking pension of ex-servicemen next month:Antony

New Delhi: Defence Minister A K Antony on Tuesday said the orders for hiking pension of ex-servicemen and their families annually by Rs 2,300 crore, as sanctioned by the Cabinet, would be issued next month.

"This is the third time in the last four years that the Government has systematically improved the post-retirement benefits for ex-servicemen," he said while addressing a meeting of the Consultative Committee attached to his Ministry.

Orders authorising payment to ex-servicemen and their families accruing from the recent cabinet decisions, hiking pension and other benefits amounting to nearly Rs 2,300 crore per annum, would be issued next month, he said.

Outlining the measures taken by the Ministry for improving health care benefits of ex-servicemen, Antony said, "The Government has been trying to expand the delivery mechanism and simplify procedures so that the ex-servicemen get the required medical benefits without hassles."

He said under the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS), 227 polyclinics were initially approved by the Government. In 2010, another 199 polyclinics were sanctioned by the Government out of which 99 polyclinics have become functional and 100 polyclinics are under various stages of operationalization, the Defence Minister said.

Antony expressed confidence that with the commissioning of the remaining polyclinics the bulk of the ex-servicemen population throughout the country would be covered by the scheme.

The delivery of medicare at polyclinics is also hampered by the shortage of staff and non-availability of prescribed medicines, he said.

Taking part in the discussion, the MPs urged the Ministry to ensure that medical facilities are available to ex-servicemen in every district of the country.

Replying to certain queries, Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh said the government is veering towards a "dashboard approach" so that the healthcare mechanisms can be monitored online on a day-to-day basis by administrators.

MPs, who attended the meeting, included Navin Jindal, Gajanan Dharmshi Babar, Gopal Singh Shekhawat, Suresh Kalmadi, Harsh Vardhan, Kailkesh N Singh Deo, Sultan Ahmed, Ram Chandra Khuntia, Mahendra Prasad, Ishwarlal Jain, Ambika Soni and Piyush Goyal.

Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma, Secretary Ex-Servicemens Welfare Vijay Chibber and other officials of the Ministry of Defence also attended the meeting.