Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

Excision and Merger of Civil Areas in Cantonments


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Cantonments

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has put forward a proposal to excise civil areas in 58 cantonments across the country, intending to merge them with State municipalities.
  • Earlier in May, the centre kicked off a plan to abolish the 62 cantonments around the country as “archaic colonial legacies”.

What are Cantonments?

  • Definition: Cantonments are permanent military stations where a group of military personnel are stationed for administrative purposes. They are governed by the Cantonments Act, 2006, which provides for municipal administration and control of these areas.
  • Number and Locations: India currently has 62 cantonments spread across various states, with some areas known for their better infrastructure and facilities compared to other parts of the country.
  • Cantonment Boards: Cantonments are managed by Cantonment Boards, which are democratic bodies comprising elected and nominated members. The Station Commander of the Cantonment serves as the ex-officio President of the Board.

Historical Background

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

Categories of the erstwhile Cantonments

Cantonments are categorized based on the population size residing within them:

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

Broader plan

  • Conversion to Exclusive Military Stations: Under the plan, military areas within all cantonments will be carved out and designated as “exclusive military stations.” The Army will exercise “absolute control” over these areas, streamlining their administration and operations.
  • Merger with Local Municipalities: The civilian areas of cantonments will be integrated with the respective local municipalities. These municipalities will take up the responsibility of maintaining these areas, along with providing essential services and infrastructure.
  • Move Away from Traditional Cantonment Concept: Post-independence, the Indian Army moved away from the traditional cantonment concept, primarily due to friction between military and civilian authorities. However, certain major cantonments continued to exist, such as Pune Cantonment and Agra Cantonment.

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