Ready to review decision on cantonment roads, Sitharaman hints

NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today indicated the Government’s readiness to review its decision to allow civilian access to all roads in military cantonments across the country.
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 minister urging her to reverse the cantonment board decision.
“Welcome to meet me. Shall hear them with an open mind,” Sitharaman today tweeted, referring to the campaign by wives of Army officers.
The Defence Ministry decided to allow civilian access to the roads in 62 cantonments after Sitharaman held a meeting with a group of MPs and elected office-bearers of cantonment boards.
The MPs and elected officials of cantonment boards had strongly pitched to allow civilians unhindered access to the roads.
Sitharaman reviewed the matter with Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat, Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra and Defence Ministry officials, a ministry statement said last week.
The ministry had said that it was decided that a simplified detailed standard operating procedure will soon be issued to address the needs of the local public and the military establishment.
However, families of Army officers feel the decision may expose the cantonments to security risks as military bases have recently been targeted by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir and other areas.
“The decision will weaken security of the cantonments. The government must review it,” said a family member of an Army official here on condition of anonymity. (AGENCIES)


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