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Military Lands & Cantonments (ML & C)

Genesis of ML&C Department

The Military Lands and Cantonments Department in indo-Pak sub continent owes its existence to the period starting from 1657 When East India Company having established its foot –hold on the soil of sub Continent was granted charter to make war or peace with “non-Christian people” in India. Originally the Cantonments were the areas set apart by the British for the exclusive use of troops, which emerged as isolated permanent Military Camps, segregated from civil population.

Cantonment has its roots in the French word Canton (a small part or a political division of a country). This civil-military mix represents the”Cantonment” concept in the present from in indo-Pakistan sub-continent which has no parallel elsewhere. Generally, in the rest of the world there are exclusive military concentrations differently named as Forts, Stations, Complexes or other local names representing the fortress concept.

Slowly a need was felt to allow the selected civil populations to join in, who could directly or indirectly, contribute to the up keep and welfare of troops stationed therein. The first three cantonments were constituted in the in the 1811 century, Barrack pore in Bengal, Dana pore in Bihar in 1765 and St.Thomas mount in Madras in 1774.

Evolution of Cantonments Administration

With the passage of time, Cantonments expanded so was their proliferation. The influx of civilians necessitated adoption of enactments as they could not be subjected to military laws, various enactments adopted from time to time include Cantt.Act 1864,Cantt Codes of 1899, 1912 and finally Cantonment Act 1924,which regulates the municipal functions of Cantonment Boards even as of today.

Rationale of the necessity of bringing the cantonments out of the orbit of military law was very comprehensively explained by General Lord Rawlinson, the Commander in chief of the India Army, in his speech made in the council of state on the 14th February 1924:

“The population of cantonments has increased and diversified: and there are now many large cantonment areas in India containing a considerable number of civilian inhabitants, whose presence in cantonments has no specific connection with the troops or with the military administration. It is only natural and in accordance with the spirit of the times, that in cantonments such as, I have describe, the civilian population should have come to desire and desire very keenly, that the government of cantonments should acquire a more progressive and popular character.”

The evolution of the erstwhile PML&C service, constituted on 25-02-1947 presently, known as the ML&C Group find its roots in the twin concepts of the Cantonment Magistrate and Cantonment Authority. Cantonment. Magistrate of 1864 (the ancestor of present day Cantonment Executive officer) worked independent of the District Magistrate and performed the functions of keeping peace and dealing with other criminal and civil offences.

With the passage of Cantonment Act, 1924.the autocratic entity7 of Cantonment Magistrate was replaced by the ML&C department in 1925. The 1924 Act introduced local governments and quasi-democratic system of governance in the cantonment areas. At the time of independence, Pakistan had 23 cantonments and presently, there are 52 cantonments spread over all the four provinces.

Organization and field set-Ups

ML&C department is an attached Department of the Ministry of Defence. It is manned by officers of ML&C Group and its headed by a Director General (DGML&C). The entire country is divided into six regions, i.e. Peshawar, Rawalpindi , Lahore, Karachi and Quetta covering 52 Cantonments and 11 Military Estate s Circles. All MEOs and CEOs within the region function under the administrative supervision of their respective Directors.

Functions of ML&C Department

Role of Regional HQs

Estate Management through MEOs

Local Self Government in Cantonments Through Cantonment Board

Cantonment Boards are corporate body which can sue and be sued. They function as local government with official majority. Cantonments have been dividing into various classes and the Boards are constituted according to the classification of the Cantonment.

Classification of Cantonments

Cantonments are divided into three classes:

Mandate of the Cantonment Boards

Functioning of the Cantonment Board

Cantonment Administration

The PCB exercises supervision and control over the financial and executive administration of the Board besides presiding over the Board meetings. He wears two hats i.e. station commander / PCB and serves as a bridge between the civil and military population.

The CEO is the Principal Executive Officer of the Cantonment Board, Secretary to the Board , Secretary to the Board Controller of Rents and a focal person in the executive and municipal administration of a Cantonment