The government Monday announced a huge hike in cash benefits for Kerala defence personnel who win gallantry awards by increasing the lump sum grant and one-time annuity. Some benefits will go up 100-fold.
The Oommen Chandy government made the changes following a meeting of the Rajya Sainik Board.
Both lump sum and annuity benefits would apply to personnel who are conferred gallantry awards henceforth.
The one-time payment for a defence official who gets a Param Veer Chakra would go up from Rs.207,200 to Rs.25 lakh and the annuity will go up from a mere Rs.2,200 to Rs 2.50 lakh, over a 10-fold hike for lump sum and a 100-fold increase for annuity.
Those who would be awarded the Ashoka Chakra would now get Rs.25 lakh and annuity of Rs.1.25 lakh, up from Rs.1.73 lakh and Rs.1,700 respectively.
Fresh awardees of the Maha Veer Chakra would receive Rs.20 lakh and annuity of Rs.75,000. The earlier benefits were Rs.136,500 and annuity of Rs.1,200.
Keerthi Chakra awardees will now get Rs.18 lakh and annuity of Rs.62,500 (up from Rs.102,900 and Rs.900). Veer Chakra awardees will get Rs.12 lakh and annuity of Rs.50,000 (up from Rs.67,700 and Rs.700).
Those who would now be conferred the Shourya Chakra will be entitled to Rs.8 lakh and annuity of Rs.50,000 (up from Rs.65,700 and Rs.700).
Winners of the Yudha Sewa medal would get Rs.2 lakh and Rs.37,500 annuity, hiked from Rs.41,500 and Rs.500 annuity.
Sena medal winners would be given Rs.2 lakh and annuity of Rs.30,000, instead of the earlier Rs.28,500 and Rs.500.
Winners of the Mention In Despatches award would take home Rs.1 lakh and Rs.25,000 annuity, hiked from the existing Rs.15,400 and Rs.400 respectively.
The 445 defence personnel from the state who have been awarded gallantry medals earlier would be entitled only to the increased annuity.
"All those who are eligible will now get the increased one-time annuity. For all fresh awardees, the new one-time payment will become applicable," K.K. Govindan Nair, director of the department of sainik welfare, and a retired army captain told IANS.
The state's existing gallantary medal awardees include three personnel who have been decorated with the Ashoka Chakra, one Maha Veer Chakra, eight Keerthi Chakras, 28 Veer Chakras, 74 Shourya Chakras, three Yudha Sewa medals, 215 Sena medals and 113 who have been given Mention in Despatches award," added Nair.
Kerala has 1.61 lakh ex-servicemen, 48,000 widows of ex-servicemen and over 3.5 lakh serving in the armed forces.
"It would take at least three years to clear the payments for the 445 awardees by the state government. The first time we brought it up with the state government, it was rejected. It was sanctioned after lot of cajoling. Kerala would be the sixth state in the country to give increased cash awards," said Nair.
It was not immediately clear how much the hikes would cost the state exchequer as it would be spread out over three years.