As many as 17 cantonment roads still remain closed despite instructions to the Army from the Centre in what appears to be a move to poke the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in the eye. Of the 17 roads majority are in the Western Command, five are in the Southern Command, top government sources told India Today.
Cantonments are distinct from military stations and have civilian and military population. In addition, it is understood the Army has moved the MoD to close down another 70 cantonment roads.
Opening cantonment roads have turned out to be an emotive issue. Veterans and families of servicing officers have joined the issue against opening-up of roads. They have highlighted security concerns and threats to families.
On the other hand, members of Parliament across party lines have written to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman citing difficulties and harassment to the public-at-large because of closed cantonment roads.
Issuing directions to open the roads, the MoD on 20 May 2018, had said the decision to ask the army to open the roads was taken after a detailed review of the cantonments with the elected representatives of cantonment boards, Chief of Army Staff and officials of the Ministry of Defence. Echoing the MoD, the Army then had said opening the cantonment roads was deliberate, calibrated and monitored exercise.
A thorough examination revealed that as many as 130 roads had been closed. The review showed that roads had been closed without following due procedure. The Cantonment Act of 2006 details procedure that needs to be followed before closing down a cantonment road.
Queries about why the 17 roads remain closed has gone unanswered from local commanders, sources said and added the fact that queries from the government has gone unanswered has raised eyebrows.
India Today wrote to both the Indian Army and Ministry of Defence last week seeking a clarification on the issue. Neither chose to respond.
By: India Today
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