‘Archaic colonial legacies’: India to disband cantonments, turn them into military stations

Indian army soldiers are seen atop a vehicle. — Reuters/File

The union government in India has decided to abolish “archaic colonial legacies” left by the British by disbanding cantonments and turning them into military stations.

A report by the Times of India said the government plans to convert the military areas in all 62 cantonments around the country into “exclusive military stations” under the army’s “absolute control”. On the other hand, the civilian parts would be merged with the local municipal corporations.

The plan has already been put into action with the cantonment in Himachal Pradesh’s Yol disbanded. India’s defence ministry issued a notification in this regard on April 27, 2023, according to the report.

The next two cantonments to be disbanded are in Secunderabad and Nasirabad, the Hindustan Times reported.

“The process will be faster in cantonments where the demarcation between civil and military areas is easy. Others will take time,” an official was quoted as saying.

Defending the move, Indian defence officials said that civilians residing in cantonments had been unable to access government welfare schemes offered through the municipalities till now. However, they would now be able to do so.

“Cantonments have become unmanageable, with neither the military nor the civilians being happy. There is always a tussle between them. The step will also reduce the strain on the annual defence budget for the development and maintenance of civil areas in cantonments,” an official said. 

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