New Delhi. 29 May 2018. 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.  Some of these civilians provide essential services to military personnel and their families, while others find the environs of military areas conducive to settle down.  Whilst the passage through Cantonments to civilians who give support to military personnel is provided for mutual benefit, the others who are denied the passage feel aggrieved.  The latter have often raised the issue of closure of roads through Cantonments which facilitates access to their residential areas.

Some good public schools and Army Public School also exist in Cantonments.  Children from civilian background are studying in these schools and cannot be denied access. Hence, a large number of roads have remained open to civilian traffic, even before the orders for opening other roads were promulgated. Therefore, access to additional areas within Cantonments has now been allowed.

Some roads were unilaterally kept closed for very long periods and a review was essential.  A number of iterations were carried out with all stake holders where views expressed by all concerned were deliberated upon.  After giving due thought to the likely implications on the opening of roads, a considered decision was taken to open roads in military areas for one month and thereafter review the nature of traffic passing through these areas.  Decision on opening or closure of roads will be taken after a feedback from Local Military Authorities (LMA) on whether roads can be opened for civil traffic, completely, selectively or as in the past.

There seems to be some apprehension in the minds of military personnel and their families that the opening of roads may lead to a security situation or traffic congestion.  It is clarified that this is a deliberate, calibrated and monitored exercise.  The aim of opening roads in Cantonments is to streamline the process of closure where required after carrying out assessment of the nature of traffic moving through Cantonments by following due procedure.  A freehand has been given to the LMA to close and control access to the Cantonments when there is actionable intelligence input or in case of emergencies.  A simplified procedure will shortly be issued to jointly address the needs of the local public and the military establishment.