In a major victory for residents of Secunderabad, who were protesting the decision of the Local Military Authority (LMA) to block off several arterial roads, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Sunday ordered all Cantonment roads to be reopened.
"Based on the meeting convened by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with Members of Parliament and elected Vice Presidents of all 62 Cantonment Boards on May 4, 2018, on the issues relating to Cantonments, a detailed review was undertaken by the Ministry on various issues, in particular those relating to closure of roads in the Cantonments," a press release by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) states.
"Sitharaman has also reviewed the matter with Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat, Defence Secretary Shri Sanjay Mitra and senior officers of the Ministry. Based on the review undertaken by Sitharaman, as a first step, the following was decided," it added.
The MoD decided to firstly reopen all closed roads in the Cantonments immediately.
"The issue of closure of individual roads will be reviewed de novo, in conformity with the provisions as laid down, and any closure of roads to be undertaken, will be done only after following the due procedure. A simplified detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) will shortly be issued to jointly address the needs of the local public and the military establishment. All other issues raised in the meeting were deliberated in detail and a time bound action plan is being prepared in consultation with all stakeholders," the press release stated.
The announcement has come as a boost to citizens in Secunderabadâ€™s Cantonment area, who have been protesting against the closure of roads for several years now.
"At last, our fight to open all roads from the past four years gave rich dividends. The cause is exposed the way it should have been," said S Chandrasekhar from Open Secunderabad Cantonment All Roads Community (OSCAR).
In the last week of April, citizens in the cityâ€™s Yapral area took to the streets, irked with the LMA's decision to shut off roads to civilians, turning an 800-metre ride into an 8-km detour.
The locals alleged that the road was shut off so the LMA officials could enjoy playing golf and watch movies at the RSI Club situated in the area.
Earlier this month, several MPs and Vice Presidents of Cantonment Boards across the country spoke of "tragedies" that civilians living around military stations have to go through and urged the government to amend an archaic British era law relating to the administration of such area.
Malla Reddy, the MP from Malkajgiri in Telangana, folded his hands and pleaded before the army not to treat people in Secunderabad Cantonment Board, which has the highest number of civilian population, "like Pakistanis".
"Why is there unnecessary fencing and diversion of the roads all the time?" he asked.