Sunday, December 15, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Health scheme for ex-servicemen
Dhumal for setting up Himalayan regiment
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Himachal Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal was not to miss the opportunity to grab political mileage. With elections in the state due within the next three months, the CM pointed out various benefits doled out for exservicemen while adding that “all these have been done by your humble ‘‘sipahi’’. A captive audience of more than 4,000 was hard to resist and Dhumal announced ‘‘me and my party will keep on doing good for exservicemen’’. Pamphlets listing out the works for the exservicemen carrying Dhumal’s photograph were distributed at the function organised by the Western Command.

Una, December 14
The Chief of Army Staff-designate, General N.C. Vij, today announced a new health scheme for exservicemen and also setting up of a brigade and an ammunition depot in either Una, Bilaspur or Hamirpur districts of Himachal Pradesh.

The General also announced a new format for the family pension scheme, besides saying that the pension plan will now include parents in case of unmarried jawans. The General, who is from the Dogra regiment, was addressing a rally of exservicemen at the police lines here this morning.

The exservicemen’s contributory health scheme will be launched in April next. And to set up everything it will take three years. Retired soldiers who have pensions less than Rs 3,000 a month have to pay a one time charge of Rs 1,800 and become members. Any place having more than 2,500 exservicemen will have an independent clinic. Where the population is less the soldiers will have to go to government dispensaries. All treatment, including serious illnesses, will be treated free of cost.

The Army will open health centres in Una, Chamba, Bilaspur and Hamirpur while Dharamsala, Solan and Shimla will have Army hospitals. To establish the scheme all across the country it will cost Rs 175 crore and each year the running expense will be close to Rs 350 crore. Gen Vij said the family pension scheme had been modified and there would one rank one pension. That means family pension will be given on the basis of rank and not a fixed amount across the board. As far as pension for unmarried soldiers goes parents will now get benefits and the earlier system of having a limit on income of parents will go.

Even as the General made these announcements the state Chief Minister, Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal, referred to his state as the nursery of Indian army and demanded that seeing the interest of the Himachali youth in joining Indian Army there should be a Himalayan Regiment. Since future wars are to be fought in the mountains this regiment was required. Even in Kargil it were the youth from the mountains who participated the most, the CM added.

Actually we have been demanding a Himachal regiment but the Ministry of Defence turned it down saying now no names were being given to regiments on caste and state lines.

Listing out his work for exservicemen, he said the bust of the country’s first Paramvir Chakra recepient Major Somnath Sharma, had been put up in his birth place at Palampur and also a bust of Lieutenant Hari Singh had been out in Chaupal near Shimla. The CM claimed that the plan of the state government to rehabilitate the former soldiers had been appreciated by the Ministry of Defence. I have been demanding the implementation of the one-rank one-pension scheme when I was in the Lok Sabha. The state was also doing its bit for soldiers who had sacrificed their lives or had been injured in counter-insurgency operations after the Kargil war.

Earlier the Chief of Staff, Western Command, Lieut-Gen H.S. Kanwar, told the gathered ex-soldiers that the HP Government had offered land to set up a brigade and an ammunition depot. Also in the pipeline are a hostel for exservicemen. A vocational training centre will be set up in the state and for this the Army has sanctioned Rs 2.5 crore and the state will be giving Rs 1 crore. All district headquarters in the state will have canteens. The first one will be in Una and a sum of Rs 40 lakh has been sanctioned for it. An exservicemen helpline is in operation at the Western Command Headquarters, Chandimandir, the scheme will be extended to all areas of the command and the first place will be Hamirpur.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |