Residents under the cantonment boards are major losers when it comes to implementation of development projects or welfare schemes of the central and state governments. The Khadki Cantonment Board (KCB) area, according to local politicians and residents, offers the best test case of how cantonment areas are forced to deprive its residents of semblance of development activity and welfare schemes compared to what civic bodies do.
The last major development project implemented in KCB area is a construction of a stadium at the cost of Rs 1.5 crore, which was six to seven years ago. “This is the maximum that a cantonment board can spend on a development project,” said Manish Anand, former KCB vice-president and a sitting member.
Anand said there was no comparison between projects implemented in civic areas and in cantonment areas. “While cantontment areas can spend Rs 1 or 2 crore on development projects, civic bodies spend over a thousand crore on development projects annually,” said Anand, adding that development always took a backseat in the cantonment region.
Underlining that there is no money, no development and no welfare schemes implemented by the central government in the cantonment area, Anand said even central and state assistance was not available for cantonment boards. “The state government had last time promised Rs 5 crore, which is yet to see the light of day,” he said.
However, Anand said it would not be an easy task to hand over civilian areas to the civic bodies.
“For instance, the civilian area in KCB — that is Khadki bazaar — is surrounded by the Army area. In this case, how can they hand over a civilian area surrounded by Army area to civic bodies ? It will create the problem of access. The bazaar will become an island. “It is a complicated thing. Will be difficult to implement,” he said.
Citing another instance of the “complications” that exist, Anand said in Khadki, there were defence units and cantonment boards that look after road repair work. “Different areas are under control of different units. We have to chase each one of them to get the roads repaired,” he said. Cantoments, he said, should be retained but should get central assistance as well as welfare schemes, a view shared by several other residents and activists in Khadki.