Though the voter strength across the eight Assembly constituencies of the city has increased, there has barely been a significant rise in the population in Pune cantonment. According to the Pune Cantonment Board’s (PCB) revised final voter list, there are a total 44,831 voters here.
PCB is a vital part of the Pune Cantonment Assembly constituency and as per EC records, a total of 2.5 lakh voters have registered here, out of which 1.2 lakh are women. The gradual dip in the population in PCB area, that has eight wards, has been a matter of concern for members and activists. According to Advocate N P Bhog migration was the main reason for the decline in the number of people staying in cantonment area.
Census 2011 showed that the population of Pune Cantonment decreased from 79,965 in 2001 to 67,881 in 2011. As per the PCB records, there was a further decline with the figure reaching 40,484 in 2012. In the past couple of years, the population has remained in the range of 40,000 – 44,000.
Elections have been due across 62 cantonments in the country and the terms of elected members were extended till December last year due to non availability of Census 2011 data. The defence ministry further extended the tenure of the boards by six months till June this year, following which the boards were dissolved as the term could not be extended for a third time, as per the Cantonment Act.
“The PCB conducted house-to-house surveys and the final list now has 44,831 registered voters,” Sanjeev Kumar, who took charge as CEO of PCB two months ago, told The Indian Express. There are eight wards – ward numbers 1, 7 and 8 are reserved for women, wards 4 for SC candidate and the remaining wards are in the open category. While the notification for elections of the members has not been issued yet, polls are likely to be held early next year.
“The reason for the declining numbers in cantonment is mainly due to restrictions on constructions here owing to the floor-space index limits,” said former PCB Vice-President Vinod Mathurawala. Though the number of families have grown over the years, houses have remained the same. There was shortage of space and no place for reconstruction, he pointed out. Meanwhile, PCB officials hinted at changes in land policy regulations.
In a first, defence land being surveyed
To prevent an Adarsh housing society-like scam, for the first time a survey of defence land across 62 cantonment boards has neared completion. The Ministry of Defence owns around 17.54-lakh acre across the country and the Army has maximum land holdings under its control and management. The defence land inside the notified cantonments is approximately 1.58-lakh acre and the remaining around 15.96-lakh acre are outside the cantonments.
Several cantonment boards have completed the exercise and draft reports have been submitted to the Ministry. Prior to the survey, the land holdings measured 2,941.19 acres and post survey it is 3,019.19 acres. The exercise has also led the board to take corrective measures and action has also been taken on the 150-odd encroachment cases.