ECHS for SSC ex-servicemen: Contradictory statements by MoD, Army confuse veterans; DSW takes up matter afresh

Benefit already provided, Antony said in Lok Sabha in 2009; Army HQ says MoD had decided not to extend the scheme

Pune | Updated: February 6, 2014 2:50 pm

Pune

In November 2009, Defence Minister A K Antony, in reply to a question by MPs Yashodhara Raje Scindia and Virender Kashyap, had said the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) had been extended to “all the Short Service Commission (SSC) officers” after retirement. Four years on, SSC ex-servicemen are disappointed not only because the ECHS benefits never reached them but also due to the confusing statements floating in the official channels.

City-based Department of Sainik Welfare (DSW) has taken up the demand afresh with public representatives and the Army. If implemented, ECHS benefits will reach close to 30,000 ex-servicemen across the country, including 300 in the city, say DSW figures.

Making a retrospective statement in the Lok Sabha in 2009, Antony had said the government “has taken steps to encourage youths to join Armed Forces”, of which one was “provision of medical facility to all the SSC Officers after release under Employees Contributory Health Services”. The minister’s remark had come as a pleasant surprise to SSC ex-servicemen fighting for ECHS benefits ever since the scheme was introduced in April 2003. But the scheme was never extended to them, and a follow-up yielded confusing outcome.

In an April 2013 letter, addressed to Brigadier Anil Chauhan, Deputy Director General, Veterans Cell, Adjutant General Branch of Army HQ, said: “A case has been taken up with the MoD for grant of ECHS membership to SSC and EC officers, which is pending with them.” A letter from Lt Col Rohit Johar, Joint Director (C&L) for MD, ECHS, however, said: “(The) Ministry of Defence has decided not to extend ECHS facilities to non-pensioners, including SSC officers.”

The ECHS website too says: “Short Service Commissioned officers are not entitled to be an ECHS member, unless you are a battle casualty and drawing disability pension.”

“How did the defence minister then say in 2009 the government has already provided ECHS benefits to SSC ex-servicemen,” asked a retired SSC officer. Major (retd) Milind Tundar, Deputy Director, DSW, said: “We have been following up the matter with the Army HQ as well as the government.”

According to Commander (retd) Ravindra Pathak, member of the Governing Body and the Pension Cell of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM), “ECHS is extended to those ex-servicemen who receive pension. SSC officers, though ex-servicemen, do not get pension and thus are ineligible for ECHS facilities. On the contrary, they are treated at service hospitals. However, due to shortage of doctors and other staff, service hospitals have been denying entry to retired SSC officers. IESM has also been following up the matter with authorities.”

In 2007, ECHS facilities were extended to retired personnel of Coast Guard.

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  1. c
    capt. surendra
    Sep 17, 2015 at 5:22 pm
    Officers and other ranks of the Indian Army, who have given prime years of their youth and life in the services of the nation, many times working twenty four hours a day, round the year, in most inclement weather like blazing 47�C in Rajasthan to blood freezing (-)50�C in high alude in Himalaya and the roughest and the toughest inhuman conditions and vagaries of nature facing the enemy, are deprived of this benefit, defeating the principle of equal justice to all in this country. Ultimate result for giving prime time of youth in the services of the Nation when it needed it most, that is during the War time, and subsequent split up service else-were has resulted in a pathetic situation as, ‘Naa Ghar ka naa Ghaat Kaa…!’ And here is another story: It is the 545 members of the Lower House of the Parliament of India that works for you and me. The same group has cranked a bill ping themselves a lifelong pension of Rs. 40,000 /- per month for their valuable (!) contribution of five years of services to the Nation. On death of any pensioner in the country, his wife’s pension is reduced to 50 %. But not for the MPs and MLAs of this country, their wives keep drawing the same amount of pension of Rs. 40,000 /- per month for rest of their life. Free travel anywhere in India in AC 1st cl for two, free medical till they live. This is just for five years of their wonderful service. And what is their contribution for last more than 65 years…? 80% potion of the country does not get even basics like two descent meals in a day or clean water to drink. But they must get pension and other facilities for life time, even his wife, full pension after his death. Where is equal justice in this…? Are the youth joining SSC being fooled by the Govt.? Even if you are a war veteran you are not enled for pension. Please do not mention about the CSD facility to SSC officers, they may withdraw the same.
    Reply
  2. S
    sunil krishnan
    Oct 15, 2015 at 9:50 am
    why should those with criminal back ground get pension just by virtue of becoming MLA MP be it Vijay Mallaya or Suresh Kalmadi when the arms forces short commision is given short shift
    Reply
  3. Y
    Yogesh Chandra
    Nov 7, 2014 at 5:38 pm
    if CSD facility is extended to SSC OFFICERS then why discrimination in giving ECHS facility to SSC OFFICERS already ,SSC POLICYitself is a biased and unproductive way to get dedicated OFFICERS, there is no point to release the officer at the stage of their attained valuable experience for just the sake of completion of SSC tenure while as INDIAN ARMED FORCES is facing serious crisis of officers,,somebody is required to analyse this pathetic and biased policy of INDIAN ARMED FORCES rendering SSC OFFICERS disgusted and hopeless after completing 14 years of dedicated service,lots of expectations from Modi Govt to intervene
    Reply
  4. Y
    Yogesh Chandra
    Nov 7, 2014 at 5:38 pm
    if CSD facility is extended to SSC OFFICERS then why discrimination in giving ECHS facility to SSC OFFICERS already ,SSC POLICYitself is a biased and unproductive way to get dedicated OFFICERS, there is no point to release the officer at the stage of their attained valuable experience for just the sake of completion of SSC tenure while as INDIAN ARMED FORCES is facing serious crisis of officers,,somebody is required to analyse this pathetic and biased policy of INDIAN ARMED FORCES rendering SSC OFFICERS disgusted and hopeless after completing 14 years of dedicated service,lots of expectations from Modi Govt to intervene
    Reply
  5. M
    Mohan Kunnath
    Jan 19, 2014 at 3:32 pm
    This is not the first instance where the RM had made misleading statements on issues pertaining to Veterans and their welfare. The veterans know it and less said the better..
    Reply
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