Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

All Cantonments to be disbanded: Centre


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Cantonments

Mains level: ULBs in India


Central Idea: The Union government has kicked off a plan to abolish the 62 cantonments around the country as “archaic colonial legacies”. The first cantonment to be renamed a military station is Yol in Himachal Pradesh.

What is the plan?

  • The plan is to carve out the military areas in all cantonments and convert them into “exclusive military stations” with the Army exercising “absolute control” over them.
  • The civilian areas, in turn, will be merged with the local municipalities, which will be responsible for their maintenance among other things.
  • The Army moved away from the concept of cantonments after independence, mainly due to the friction between military and civilian authorities.
  • But some major cantonments continued to exist. Ex. Pune Cantonment, Agra Cantonment etc.

What are Cantonments?

  • Cantonments in India are permanent military stations where a group of military personnel are stationed for administrative purposes.
  • These cantonments are governed by the Cantonments Act, 2006 which provides for municipal administration and control of these areas.
  • There are 62 cantonments in India which are located in various states across the country.
  • These areas are maintained by the Defence Estates Organization (DEO) under the Ministry of Defence, and are distinct from military bases or barracks which are temporary locations for military personnel.
  • Cantonments are generally considered to be areas with better infrastructure and facilities compared to other parts of the country.

Their features

  • Cantonment Boards are democratic bodies comprising elected and nominated members.
  • In terms of Entry 3 of the Union List (Schedule VII) of the Constitution of India, Urban Self Governance of the Cantonments and the Housing Accommodation therein is the subject matter of the Union.
  • The Station Commander of the Cantonment is the ex-officio President of the Board, and an officer of the IDES or Defence Estates Organisation is the Chief Executive Officer who is also the Member-Secretary of the Board.
  • They have equal representation of elected and nominated/ex-officio members to balance official representation with democratic composition.
  • They maintain ecological balance while providing better civic facilities to the residents.

History of establishments

  • The Cantonments Act, 1924 was enacted by the British to regulate the municipal administration of Cantonments.
  • After India’s independence, the Cantonments Act, 1924, was modified to suit the democratic setup of the country.
  • The Cantonments Act, 2006, replaced the Cantonments Act, 1924, and aims to provide greater autonomy and accountability to the Cantonment Boards.


There are four categories of Cantonments, depending on the size of the population residing inside a Cantonment:

  1. Category I: Cantonments having a population of more than 50,000.
  2. Category II: Cantonments having a population of 10,000 to 50,000.
  3. Category III: Cantonments having a population of less than 10,000.
  4. Category IV: Industrial or training Cantonments, irrespective of their population size.

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