In a statement, the Army said the opening of cantonment roads is a “deliberate, calibrated and monitored exercise” aimed at streamlining the process of closure where required after carrying out assessment of the nature of traffic moving through cantonments by following due procedure.
According to a decision taken during a meeting convened by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently, it was decided that all closed roads in cantonment areas will be reopened immediately.
It was also decided that the issue of closure of individual roads will be reviewed de novo, in conformity with the provisions as laid down, and any closure of roads will be done only after following the due procedure, a government statement issued on May 20 had said.
Army officials and their families have apparently expressed strong reservations against the decision to reopen all roads in cantonments to civilians, citing security concerns.
A country-wide signature campaign against the government decision has been launched by wives of army officers. They say they would meet the defence ministerurging her to reverse the cantonment board decision.
The Army’s statement today said, “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.
“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.”
It further added that a simplified procedure will shortly be issued to jointly address the needs of the local public and the military establishment.
“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,” it added.
On Monday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman indicated the government’s readiness to review its decision to allow civilian access to all roads in military cantonments across the country.