Cantonment elections in India very soon: Antony

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New Delhi, Feb 13 (UNI) Elections to the cantonments across the country will be held very soon, Defence Minister A K Antony said today.

Announcing this at a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee here, he said the Government was taking urgent steps to hold the elections very soon in cantonments across the country.

Mr Antony said the democratisation process of the cantonments have been finally achieved with the Cantonments Act, 2006 which came into force on December 18, 2006.

The Act was amended after a gap of 82 years. There are 62 cantonments all over the country spanning over 1.9 lakh acres including civil area of nearly 30,000 acres.

The civil area is an area within the cantonment specifically notified as a measure of democratisation under Section 46 of the Cantonments Act, 2006.

The new Act establishes parity between the elected and non-elected members. The non-elected members were more than the elected members as per the Cantonments Act of 1924.

The first cantonment was established in Barrackpore in 1765 and the second at Danapore in the same year.

Mr Antony said the Cantonment Electoral Rules, 2007 have already been notified under which the division of cantonments into wards and reservation of seats for SCs and STs have been notified in all the cantonments.

The reservation of wards for women has been notified in respect of 61 cantonment boards, he added.

Speaking at the meeting, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said over the years due to better land management, cantonments have become good real estate.

He said efforts of the government were not only directed to fully safeguard this valuable asset of the nation, but also to make optimal use of land. ''We have initiated computerisation of land records of cantonments to achieve this purpose,'' Mr Raju said.

Members of Parliament, who took part in the discussions, called for effective measures to prevent encroachment on defence land.

However, many of them were of the view that civic amenities and other welfare measures taken by the state governments should also be implemented for the civilian population living in cantonment areas.

Some members brought to the notice of the Defence Minister that the provision of octroi still continues in seven cantonments, thus causing hardship to the civilian population.

Mr Antony assured the members that the issue would be taken up after the elections by which time alternative source of income for these cantonments could be worked out.

The meeting was attended among others by Naveen Jindal, M A Kharabela Swain, Jayaben B Thakkar, Samik Lahiri, Sanjay Dhotre, Shankhlal Majhi, Braja Kishore Tripathy, Madhu Goud Yaskhi from the Lok Sabha and Syed Azees Pasha and Dharam Pal Sabharwal from the Rajya Sabha.


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