The Haryana police resorted to using water cannons and tear gas shells to disperse a large group of state government employees agitating in Panchkula for the restoration of the Old Pension Scheme.
The demonstrators gathered on the Panchkula-Chandigarh border and tried to cross over into the Union Territory and march towards the Haryana Chief Minister's residence to press for their demand. There was heavy police deployment at the site on the border, police said.
They had gathered under the banner of the 'Old Pension Scheme (OPS) Restoration Struggle Committee' and a representative of the panel, while speaking to reporters in Panchkula, claimed that a few employees had suffered injuries during the police action.
Under the OPS, employees with 20 years of service get 50% of their last drawn salary as their pension. Additionally, the pension amount was not deducted from the salary during the period of employment, unlike the National Pension System (NPS), which is a contributory pension scheme under which employees contribute 10% of their salary (which is split between basic and the dearness allowance), along with the government contributing 14% towards the NPS accounts of the employees.
The Himachal Pradesh government became the latest state to announce its decision to revert to the dearness allowance (DA) linked OPS. However, the governments of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand had recently informed the Centre and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) about their decision to restart OPS in their respective states.
But, RBI on January 16, 2023, sounded a note of caution against the reversion, stating that this poses a major risk on the “subnational fiscal horizon” and would result in accumulation of unfunded liabilities in the future.
"Restoration of OPS is a legitimate demand. Governments of Rajasthan, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have restored it. The Haryana government has given an excuse that the government will go bankrupt if OPS is restored, which is not correct," the committee's representative said.
He said that an employee gives 25 to 30 years of service to a department. "Politicians have in the past also been getting pensions for multiple terms, so what are we demanding...," he said.
(With inputs from PTI)