Postponement of Secunderabad Cantonment Polls Leads to Disappointment for Political Parties.
The upcoming Cantonment Board election in Secunderabad, scheduled for April 30, has been rescinded by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), according to a gazette notification issued on Friday. This has left the development of Cantonment in limbo, as it has been two years since the tenure of the eight ward members and vice president was completed. The SCB officials were busy preparing the final electoral rolls, and all major political parties were finalizing the list of winning aspirants in the wards. However, the announcement of the cancellation of the election has crushed all hopes.
The cancellation of the Cantonment elections has elicited mixed views among the locals. Some residents are hoping that the merger of civilian areas of SCB with the GHMC would be taken up on a fast track. However, a few groups of locals have shown displeasure over the cancellation of the Cantonment elections, and activists of a few parties staged a dharna.
Residents of SCB have expressed their disappointment, stating that no development has taken place in all spheres for several years. They cited issues such as no proper town planning, no proper construction permission, narrow roads, no proper health centers, no proper infrastructure, and poor sanitation in SCB. For the past two years, the board has been without public representatives, and they were hoping that with the notification of Cantonment election, SCB would soon get a facelift.
Former vice-president of SCB, Maheshwar Reddy, said that the Central government is least bothered about Cantonment growth. He added that in 2019 also MoD cancelled the election, and this year they have done the same. He also mentioned that Rs 700-crore service charges are still pending from the MoD, due to which several development works have not been taken up. Even no decision has been taken on merging the civilian areas of the Cantonment with the GHMC. It appears that the Government of India lacks clarity on how to address the problem in the Cantonment areas.
An SCB-based non-governmental organization, Cantonment Vikas Manch, which has been fighting the SCB-GHMC merger issue and opposing the MoD’s sudden decision on the polls, had approached the HC recently filing a writ petition urging it not to postpone the polls. The secretary of Cantonment Vikas Manch, S Ravinder, said that “the SCB-GHMC merger process is almost in its final stage but is halted due to the MoD’s gazette notification on the poll. We strongly oppose it.”
Jeetendra Surana, secretary of All Cantonments Citizens Welfare Association, said that “the election imbroglio has been created due to lack of coordination between MOD and its two arms- Army & DGDE. Having announced the policy of merger of Cantonments with the nearest municipality, the administration should complete that process as soon as possible. Conflicting orders cause discontent in public.” When asked, Madhukar Naik, SCB CEO, said that the board was not aware of the reason for the cancellation of the election and also whether the merger takes place or not.