TODAY -

Retired Army, Navy & Air Force war veterans laboured to clean compound of defunct Rajya Sainik Board at Lamphel

Colonel I S Chanam, Retd *



Rajya Sainik Board (RSB) and Zila Sainik Board (ZSB) in a state are agencies to attend to problems faced by retired soldiers, sailors and airmen of Defence Services of the Government of India. Besides a number of tasks assigned to them, a major task is to tackle problems of Ex-servicemen (ESM) regarding pension, increase in pension and arrears thereof, Central Pay Commision (CPC) award and instalment payment of arrears of CPC.

To run these RSB and ZSBs, the Defence Ministry provides 75% of the required funds for Manipur and the State Government is to provide 25%.

RSB at Imphal and ZSB at Churachandpur have been existing for namesake for the last several years in a state of total paralysis. It is always easy to heap the blame on the state government for the failure of its functioning properly.Absolute neglect is not a sufficiently adequateword. The ESMs are also partly to blame. They remained quiet, did not raise the issue of dismal state of RSB and ZSB to the state government as a joint voice of over 10,000 strong ESMs.

Recently, an active and enthusiastic officer has been appointed as the Secretary of RSB at Lamphel, Imphal. The Army at Leimakhong was very prompt to respond to request of the veterans and rushed furniture on temporary loan, to establish the office of the Secretary.

Before this the office of the Secretary comprised of a wooden table, two wooden chairs and one wooden bench, all of which were positioned/displayed on the verandah of the huge office building. The verandah served as the office of the earlier Secretary. The furniture given on loan by the Army comprise of table officer -1, table writing-1,office chairs-4, centre table-1,steel rake for files-2 and steel locker/almirah-1.

With these, an office has been started in one single room for the newly appointed Secretary. The rest of the building is yet to be handed over to the new Secretary, it is learnt.

A call on whatsapp group from the new Secretary to help clean and remove the grasses and creepers that have overwhelmed the RSB compound was responded by 18 veterans; the oldest and senior most in age being Colonel I S Chanam, Lt Colonel KG Sharma and Wing Commander AK Deben.

Others were seven officers including Honorary Captains, a number of NCOs and a few jawans. Picture depicts the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force war veterans who came and labouredto clean up the defunct RSB compound. The veterans were jubilant in the hope that the RSB will, from now on, function properly to alleviate problems of ESMs, specially the Jawans, the widows of ESMs and the war widows.

The RSB at Imphal has a Secretary and a peon posted against authorisation of six.The peon will retire on this coming Saturday, 7th July 2018.The Secretary will be all alone thereafter. Desperate need is that of clerks, without which official correspondence is halted. The RSB building at Lamphel needs a chowkidar to guard the building at night and during non-office hours. The previous Secretary also held the fort of RSB with the lone peon to assist him. That is a great Sanaleipak Manipur.

The ZSB at Churachandpur is surviving without an officer. Major Gangte used to work there as Secretary for a long time without salary, assisted by two clerks/peon placed there under arrangement of the DC, Churachandpur.

The RSB and ZSB need computers with broadband connections, printers, clerks, peon, (chowkidar for RSB, Lamphel) and adequate furniture. All central government circulars are uploaded on concerned websites.

In absence of functional RSB and ZSB, the Army and Assam Rifle units have been assisting the ESMs to rectify pension anomalies committed by Records offices and banks/treasuries, during rallies conducted by them, periodically. On 10 April 2018, the Sangai Express published that, Khuga battalion of Assam Rifles under Churachandpur Sector Assam Rifles, helped 344 cases of pension anomalies, to get entitled pension and pension arrears released from government treasuries and banks.

Claims submitted for 344 cases amounted to Rs3, 03, 17,868/-(over 3 Crore rupees), out of which, for 288 cases an amount of Rs2, 04, 01,499/-(over 2 Crore) have been credited to the accounts of the ESMs. Similarly Assam Rifle unit under Assam Rifles Sector at Ukhrul is helping the ESMs in Ukhrul district. At Leimakhong the Signal Regiment of Army runs a ‘Suvigya Cell’ that has helped several ESMs to rectify their pension anomalies and the ESMs have received payments from banks and treasuriesamounting to several crore of rupees.

Now a question arises. What happens to the thousands of ESMs who could not reach the Assam Rifles and Army units with their problems of pension and arrears of pension? How will a widow and an old lady pensioner reach the Assam Rifles and Army units? The answer is- the RSB and ZSBs have to be revived and invigorated.

It is the duty of RSB and ZSBs to carry out the tasks that the Army and Assam Rifle units have been doing as a good gesture. The state government has to fulfil its obligation to the soldiers who had given their prime of life for defence service of the nation, by resuscitating, reviving and invigorating RSB Imphal and ZSB, Churachandpur.

ZSBs at Thoubal,Chandel, Bishnupur, Tamenglong, Senapati and Ukrul, which were established in 2015 by the Army and Assam Rifles, must be activated. One officer and a clerk must be appointed for each of these ZSBs and office equipment be provided by the state government. Office accommodation for ZSBs at Tamenglong, Ukhrul and Senapati has been provided by the respective DCs, and those of Thoubal, Bishnupur and Chandel have been provided by the Army and Assam Rifles units.

Performance of duties and carrying out responsibilities by RSB and ZSB are notcomplete till Sainik Rest house (guest rooms) are provisioned for the ESMs coming from far flung areas of Manipur to Imphal for medical treatment or court cases or for other purposes, and requiring a halt for a day or two at Imphal, the capital city of Manipur, where all important government offices, big hospitalsare located. Sainik Rest Houses are maintained in all the states in the country, except our beloved Sanaleipak.

The ESMs who stay in Sainik Rest House will pay room rents on per day basis but the cost will be lower than that of civil hotels. A written request was submitted from Ex-servicemen Association (AFESAM) to Home Department, Government of Manipur in August 2016 for provision of one guest room for JCOs and two guest rooms for NCOs/jawans in the RSB building at Lamphel. The RSB building at Lamphel has adequate space to provide rooms for this purpose, once the personal belongings/properties stored in the building are shifted/vacated out.


* Colonel I S Chanam, Retd , wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on July 12, 2018.



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