Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Illegal Closure of Secunderabad Cantonment Roads

Sub: Illegal Closure of Secunderabad Cantonment Roads by Local Military Authorities – Need to raise the issue in Parliament
Dear Sir Honorable MP sirs.
Citizens of Secunderabad appreciate the Telangana State Government's assurance that it will work to get the illegally closed Secunderabad Cantonment roads reopened. Meanwhile the seriousness of the matter is increasing because local military authorities continue on their spree of closing and restricting more and more roads to civilians as the day passes. The LMA is deliberately antagonizing the citizens for the expose we have done on their misdeeds.
On behalf of OSCAR we request you to kindly raise this important matter in Parliament during the question hour together and find the solution for the new state of Telangana.
A brief recap of the facts is in order here:
•         The Hyderabad High Court order of 26.09.2014 allowing local military authorities to close 9 roads, did not consider Section 258 of Cantonments Act 2006. The MOD letter of 07.01.2015, was issued more than 3 months after the HC judgment, and this letter pointed out that LMA have no statutory authority to close roads. The letter also ordered that roads closed without following Section 258 must be reopened immediately, and that in future the procedure of Sec 258 be followed for closing roads when required

•         Since the SCB Board Meeting held on 10.12.2015, elected TRS party board members have been trying to raise the road closure issue in almost every Board Meeting. Every time the President Cantonment Board (who is part of LMA) is not allowing the members to raise the matter on some pretext or other.

•         He cites 3 reasons for his refusal – the HC order, the fact that CM and Minister of Defense are in discussion on the matter and his claim that MOD orders of 07.01.2015 do not apply to the closed roads since these roads are "internal unit line roads on A1 land" (or similar descriptions).  But MOD is silent on the matter and not clarifying on this issue by siding the LMA.

•         In case the other cantonments where LMA had closed roads have followed the 07.01.2015 MOD orders and reopened closed roads. In the first relevant cases to be decided after the 07.01.2015 MOD orders were issued, Allahabad High Court disallowed road closure citing the MOD order and the statutory position as laid down in Cantonments Act 2006. In Hyderabad too, appeals against the HC's orders of 26.09.2014, and also some fresh petitions, are pending. Hearings on these however seem to be delayed.

•         In their official pronouncements LMA and SCB officials continue to refer to "the proposed closure of roads". The fact however is that over a dozen roads are already closed by LMA illegally. The use of "proposed closure" seems to be a deliberate ploy to mislead, by projecting as if Gough Road is the only road whose closure is of interest. The fact however is that:
-  Of the 3 zones into which the Cantonment stretch of almost 10 km north-south distance from Marredpally to Hakimpet may be divided - namely the AOC area in the south, the MCEME area in the middle, and the Bison area (golf course area) in the north of the cantonment stretch - roads in the Bison area are already closed, with 9 gates / walls erected around the golf course. Roads in the MCEME area are now being restricted to civilian users by putting barriers, and jawans are now stopping civilian drivers. Roads in the AOC area (Gough Road being one of them) are closed to civilian traffic between 10 pm and 7 am.

-  While the HC order listed 9 roads (5 in the AOC area and 4 in the Golf Course area), the number of roads already closed is actually well over a dozen.
•         The closure of roads has played havoc with east-west connectivity across the cantonment. Prior to their closure/restriction, there were 8 east-west accesses between Rajiv Rahadari and areas to the east of cantonment. Now the only unaffected connection is the Trimulgherry - ECIL All Saints Road. Over 15 lakh people in Alwal, Malkajgiri and Kapra Circles of GHMC, and Trimulgherry and Bolarum Wards of SCB are hit. School children have to travel 8 km to reach Valerian School from Bolarum, instead of 800 metres. Holy Trinity Church cannot be reached now from Yapral side. 

Access to even Cantonment Telephone Exchange, which serves the northern areas from Bolarum, Yapral, Kowkoor, etc., is blocked. Access to public transport from Lakdawala junction bus stop is cut off for the eastern areas. Workers travelling to the industrial estates like Kushaiguda, Moula Ali, etc., have to face difficulty – as also the workers from Yapral, Sainikpuri, AS Rao Nagar and Malkajgiri areas who travel to Hi-Tech City and Gachbowli. Horrendous traffic jams at Trimulgherry and Lothkunta have become the norm – even late at night. Civil – military relations have also hit a nadir because of this issue.
Statements made by the Defence Minister on the matter during his recent visit to Hyderabad indicate that the Central Government is unlikely to take a hard line with the military authorities on this issue. However it is also a fact that the 7 Jan 2015 MOD orders issued by the same Ministry are not being followed by local military authorities in Secunderabad while they are being followed in other cantonments. That the local military authorities here deny applicability of the Law on the specious claim that public do not have right of way on these roads is reprehensible. This claim may easily be countered because:
-  the roads have been opened to public for over a century

-  the present cantonment lands were never assigned by the Nizam to the British. There is ample documentary evidence to show that the British purchased properties from private individuals or from the Nizam's government – as such the roads around the properties were public roads even then

-  the fact that in the General Land register maintained by DEO the roads are classified as A1 land, and have been assigned survey numbers which are different from the land holdings through which these roads pass, clearly show that public have right of way on these roads, when read with the Cantonment's Land Administration Rules (CLAR 1937).
All supporting documents/information to substantiate the above are available with OSCAR.
We request you to raise this important issue in Parliament to highlight the problems being faced by citizens. OSCAR stands available to provide any further information that you may require in this regard.
Thanking you and we look forward all the MPs of the new Telangana state to work for the cause of the public and citizens interest since it is the state suffering the agony.
Thanking you, with regards, 
Yours Sincerely,
For OSCAR Community,


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