New Delhi, Dec 31 : The Congress on Sunday demanded that the central government roll back the hike in the contribution by members in the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS).
As per the revised norms, a retired Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) will now have to pay Rs 67,000 instead of the previous Rs 15,000, a Jawan will have to shell out Rs 30,000 instead of Rs 15,000 and a retired officer will have to pay Rs 1,20,000 instead of the previous Rs 60,000 to get basic medical care under the ECHS.
"This move of the Defence Ministry will put a heavy financial burden on about 52 lakh retired defence personnel and their around 2 crore dependents who have already been short changed by the government through the partially implemented OROP," Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev said at a press conference here.
"What is baffling is that the government is resorting to the alibi of hike in remuneration caused by the 7th Pay Commission to justify this senseless decision.
This is fraudulent because while the increase in pay in the 7th pay panel was to the tune of an average 17 per cent, the hike in the ECHS is to the tune of 100 to 200 per cent," she added.
Demanding a rollback of the hike, Dev said that the Congress MPs will take up this issue in Parliament.
"The pretensions of nationalism, deshbhakti (patriotism) and 'sena pre'm (love for armed forces) of this government stands exposed...The government has severely hit the ex-servicemen by deciding to make them pay 2-3 times more for availing basic health services," she said.
She said that for all the "boisterous posturing" done by the Prime Minister and his colleagues "in political rallies and TV studios", the situation on ground is making us look "extremely vulnerable" which is serious cause of concern for the nation.
Gen. Satbir Singh (retd), Chairman of All India Federation of Ex-Servicemen's Organisations (IESM), and Colonel Rohit Chaudhary (retd.), chairman Haryana state Congress ex-servicemen department were also present at the press conference.