All cantonments will be disbanded

The Union administration has begun a proposal to demolish the country’s 62 cantonments as “archaic colonial legacies.” Yol in Himachal Pradesh was the first cantonment to be called a military station.

What is the strategy?

  • The objective is to carve out military sections in all cantonments and turn them into “exclusive military stations” with “absolute control” by the Army.
  • In turn, civilian zones will be united with local governments, which will be responsible for their upkeep, among other things.
  • After independence, the Army abandoned the notion of cantonments, owing to tensions between military and civilian administrations.
  • However, some important cantonments remained. For example, Pune Cantonment, Agra Cantonment, and so on.

What exactly are cantonments?

  • Cantonments are permanent military stations in India where a contingent of military soldiers is stationed for administrative functions.
  • The Cantonments Act of 2006 governs these cantonments and allows for municipal administration and management of these territories.
  • In India, there are 62 cantonments located in various states around the country.
  • These lands are maintained by the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Estates Organisation (DEO) and are separate from military bases or barracks, which are temporary locations for military personnel.
  • Cantonments are often thought to have better infrastructure and facilities than other sections of the country.

Their features

  • Cantonment Boards are democratic entities with members that are elected and nominated.
  • According to Entry 3 of the Union List (Schedule VII) of the Indian Constitution, the subject matter of the Union is urban self-government of cantonments and housing accommodation within them.
  • The ex-officio President of the Board is the Station Commander of the Cantonment, and the Chief Executive Officer, who is also a Member-Secretary of the Board, is an officer of the IDES or Defence Estates Organisation.
  • To balance official representation with democratic composition, they have equal representation of elected and nominated/ex-officio members.
  • They preserve natural equilibrium while improving civic facilities for inhabitants.

Establishment history

  • The British passed the Cantonments Act in 1924 to govern the municipal management of Cantonments.
  • Following India’s independence, the Cantonments Act of 1924 was amended to reflect the country’s democratic structure.
  • The Cantonments Act of 2006, which superseded the Cantonments Act of 1924, aims to provide Cantonment Boards more autonomy and accountability.


  • Cantonments are classified into four types based on the amount of the population that lives within them:
  • Cantonments with a population of more than 50,000 are classified as Category I.
  • Cantonments with a population of 10,000 to 50,000 are classified as Category II.
  • Cantonments with a population of less than 10,000 are classified as Category III.
  • Industrial or training cantonments, regardless of population size, fall into Category IV.
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