Ministry of Defence has announced that Cantonment Boards Act 1924 is being reviewed; the Act is a relic of colonial era. Elections under this act are a mere palliative, not a remedy for the civic problems. They withheld water supply, perhaps justifiably, even on Eid day. They were created primarily to `protect the interest of troops’ (not civilians) `and ensure their welfare.

The Cant. Act of 1924 tried to democratise the boards by inducting elected representatives on the Board, sans any real authority, the reps could not act as voice of the people. The official nominees plus the Station Commander, ex-officio President of the Board, hold the majority power. The preferential treatment to a minority of military personnel, as against sprawling civilian population, speaks volumes on how well the boards perform their duties.

The civilians are harassed with a deluge of frivolous notices such as applicants for renewal of less than five marla house leases (renewable for Rs 100) are now slapped with a long list of `discrepancies. The invisible Military Lands and Cantonments Department (ML&C) appears to act hands in glove with the boards. With connivance of the board, illegal construction and conversion of residential properties into commercial ones is being carried on in Babu Bazar and elsewhere. The real cure for Cant. Board is that they should be abolished and replaced with municipal bodies.


Rawalpindi, August 11.