Veterans and ex-servicemen settled in the region have demanded that CSD canteens run by Western Command in various towns and cities, including Chandigarh, be opened on the lines of the grocery stores being opened for the civilian population.
They argue that if stores selling essential items can open during the day for limited period then why cannot the CSD canteens, on which thousands of veterans and their family members are dependent, be opened on similar lines.
The CSD canteens, catering to the veterans, were shut down after the nationwide lockdown was announced to fight COVID-19. However, limited canteen facilities were a available to serving soldiers and their families residing within cantonments and military stations.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Lt Col SS Sohi (retd), president of Ex-Servicemen Grievances Cell, Mohali, said that he had taken up the case of opening the CSD canteens in the region with the Quarter Master General’s (QMG) branch at Army Headquarters but he had met with a very negative response.
“I received a terse one line answer on response and later found that my email ID had been blocked by the QMG Branch. It is a very petty thing to do. I have received phone calls from veterans in various towns that the stocks at the CSD canteens, which cater to veterans, has been shifted out to be distributed among the serving soldiers,” he said
Lt Col Sohi said that he has also taken up the matter of opening the CSD canteens in the region and Tri-city area with Western Command authorities. There are reports that due to prolonged closure of the canteens lot of damage has been caused to the food stock lying in them by rats.
The Mohali district administration has reacted positively to the demand for opening CSD canteens between 7 am and 11 am as has been mandated by the Punjab government for other stores.
“I have spoken to the SDM Mohali and he has assured me of all help to Army authorities for opening of the CSD canteens. I am sure that with the help of the local authorities the rush at the canteens can be managed in an orderly fashion,” he said.
When contacted, a senior officer at Western Command Headquarters said that the issue was under deliberation at Command Headquarters and that a final call on it was yet to be taken.
Veterans say that with the classification of cities and towns into Red, Orange and Green zones it should be easy for the Command authorities to identify the areas where they can easily open the canteens.
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