The COVID-19 lockdown has resulted in a new row between residents of Secunderabad and the Local Military Authority (LMA), with residents alleging that the Army has blocked and closed down roads, despite instructions from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) that they must remain open.
‚ÄúFor more than 70 days (since the start of the lockdown), LMA has closed streets in Bolarum and AOC Centre areas of Secunderabad Cantonment. No public notice was given before the closure. No reason was assigned. The Cantonment Board was not notified or involved in the closure,‚ÄĚ the Federation of North Eastern Colonies of Secunderabad (FNECS) said in a statement.
The FNECS argued that any closure of the roads has to be approved by the Cantonment Board and not by the LMA under Section 258 of Cantonment Act, 2006, which also states that, ‚Äúno street shall be closed for reasons other than security reasons and without giving a public notice inviting objections and suggestions from the general public.‚ÄĚ
Citing a newspaper report which quoted LMA officials stating that they closed the roads as there was ‚Äėmisuse‚Äô, the FNECS said, ‚ÄúAll the closed roads fall under the law and order jurisdiction of Hyderabad City Police. If any ‚Äėmisuse‚Äô is noticed or suspected, it must have been reported to the police. Has it? No proceeding of the Board has been carried out evidencing any such decision in the Secunderabad Cantonment Board.‚ÄĚ
Road closures by the LMA in Secunderabad have been a bone of contention for years now. Local residents say that the LMA often shuts down arterial roads, which leads to long detours.
In 2018, after several representations were made, orders were issued by the MoD to remove blockages on all Cantonment roads and reopen them to the public.
The residents alleged that the instructions issued by the MoD and Additional Directorate General of Public Information, Indian Army, were being flouted by the LMA in Secunderabad.
‚ÄúThese streets are thoroughfares connecting civilian areas to each other. They are the only way for residents of the north-eastern parts of the city to commute to the city. Lakhs of people are affected by their closure,‚ÄĚ the FNECS said.
Requesting the MoD to ensure that the 2006 Act was followed in ‚Äėletter and spirit‚Äô, the FNECS added, ‚ÄúPlease ensure all the closed roads are reopened immediately, so that lakhs of citizens are relieved of daily inconvenience.‚ÄĚ
The issue is expected to come up during the next board meeting of the Secunderabad Cantonment Board.