Defence minstry finalises protocol on cantonment roads

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took the decision after her meeting with several members of Parliament and vice presidents of Cantonment Boards.

The defence ministry on Friday claims to have finalised a standard protocol, which local military authorities have to follow if they want to close down roads passing through 62 cantonments all over the country.

"The ministry in coordination with army headquarters has devised a standardised protocol for closure of roads in Cantonments, in conformity with the provisions of the Cantonments Act, 2006," a spokesperson of the defence ministry said in a statement.

Emergent security needs of the aArmy, she said, had been duly taken care of while devising the standard protocol to enable closure of roads in such circumstances. Details of the SOP has not been released in the public domain.

On May 20, the ministry ordered opening up all closed roads in 62 cantonments with some exceptions, triggering sharp criticism for many.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took the decision after her meeting with several members of Parliament and vice presidents of Cantonment Boards. Many lawmakers had objected to the practice and the ministry also received complaints on such closures.

Following the criticism, the ministry stated each case of of closure of individual roads would be reviewed fresh in conformity with the provisions as laid down, and any closure of roads to be undertaken, will be done only after following the due procedure.

The minister held several rounds of discussions and reviewed the contentious issue with the Army Headquarters including the Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat and the Defence Estates Organisation. This led to the creation of the SOP that has been shared with the cantonment authorities.

The Local Military Authorities are free to keep some roads closed if they consider it necessary because of certain specified reasons, but they have to do it following a proper procedure as laid down under Cantonment Act, 2006 and underscored in the SOP.

The cantonments came up during the British era and were exclusive areas where service personnel and their families resided. Over the years, cities have expanded and a large number of civilians now reside in close proximity of the Cantonments, necessitating opening of more roads inside the cantonments.

When she ordered opening up the cantonment roads in May, Nirmala stated the move would be reviewed after a month based on the feedback from local military commander. It was also decided to create the SOP.

 

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Defence minstry finalises protocol on cantonment roads

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