Sukhu extends benefits of OPS to PSU employees
Shimla: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, who addressed a massive rally of the state government employees — first as part of ‘thanksgiving’ for restoring Old Pension Scheme (OPS) announced that the benefits of old pension will also be extended to employees of all state PSUs.
This covers another 1.50 lakh employees.
“In addition to the employees of Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Limited, the employees of the all other corporations will also be included under the old pension scheme,” he declared as the rally witnessed an impressive show of strength by the employees, who described Sukhu as ‘pension man’ of Himachal Pradesh.
During the state assembly elections, the Congress had promised that the OPS will be implemented in the state on its return to power and a decision to reinstate the old pension will be taken in the first Cabinet meeting of the new government.
“As part of our promise, we decided to restore the OPS on January 13, 2023 despite the state’s critical fiscal health.
We have termed it as a humanitarian decision to address social security of the retired persons, who had served the state government,” he says. On Sunday, a his entire Cabinet took the stage at Dharamshala, where the National Pension Scheme Employees Association (PSEA) had organised an ‘abhaar rally’ to expressed gratitude, Sukhu sought the cooperation of the employees to get the state’s rightful claims from the Centre, which also include getting Rs 9,242.60 crore deposited in the national pension fund.
“The NPS employees are required to cooperate with the state government to retrieve the National Pension System funds currently held by the Union government,” he said and asked employees to remain prepared for the upcoming battle.
The chief minister emphasised his understanding of the employees’ struggles, being the son of a government employee himself. The restoration of the old pension was prioritised in the first Cabinet meeting after the formation of the new government, in order to preserve the employees’ self-respect.
“At the NITI Aayog meeting, I asked for the return of the NPS funds amounting to Rs. 9,242.60 crore. This matter will be taken up with the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman again,” he asserted.
He said the government has taken new initiatives on making Himachal Pradesh a green energy state. The budget includes various environment friendly initiatives, including the promotion of green hydrogen and the encouragement of e-vehicles. The conversion of all diesel buses operated by HRTC into e-buses is planned to be completed within three years, he said.
Himachal Pradesh has become the first state in the country to grant legal rights to orphans. Financial assistance of Rs 1.50 lakh is being provided to widows and single women for house construction.
The budget includes provisions of a monthly pension of Rs 1,500 to 2.31 lakh women above the age of 18 and the benefit would be extended to women in the Spiti Valley region in the second phase, he said.
In his address, Deputy Chief Minister Mukesh Agnihotri praised the employees of Himachal Pradesh for their significant contribution to the state’s development. The state government has decided to restore the old pension, highlighting the Congress party’s commitment to supporting the employees.
Agnihotri emphasised that despite inheriting a substantial debt of Rs 76,000 crore, the present government has prioritised the restoration of the OPS.
He credited senior Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi for her promise to implement the scheme wherever the Congress government comes into power. As a result, Karnataka has also followed suit and restored it, influenced by the positive developments in Himachal.
Pradeep Thakur, the State President of the NPSEA (National Pension Scheme Employees Association), expressed gratitude to Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu for restoring the old pension scheme.
The NPSEA welcomed the chief minister by showering him with approximately 15 quintals of flowers and celebrating his arrival with fireworks and crackers.
They also presented a cheque of Rs. 31 lakh towards the Chief Minister’s ‘sukh aashray kosh’.