Telangana IT and Industries Minister K T Rama Rao today urged Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to address the issue of the closure of AOC roads in Secunderabad.
In a letter to the minister, KTR urged the latter to ask the Local Military Authorities (LMA) of the Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB) to open the closed roads to the public with immediate effect.
"The closure of the AOC roads by the LMA of the SCB inconveniences millions of citizens dwelling in the north and north-eastern parts of Hyderabad everyday. In July 2020, the LMA shut down four important roads - the Allahabad Gate Road, Gough Road, Wellington Road, and Ordinance Road - citing the surge in Covid-19 cases. The LMA often orders the closure of roads in an arbitrary and unauthorised manner. This not only impacts traffic congestion but also increases the commute time for many travellers. It is distressing to note that these roads are closed for reasons that can be characterised as frivolous - our government had taken all the required measures to contain Covid, including implementing a lockdown in May. Though the lockdown has been lifted, the roads remain closed," he stated.
KTR pointed out that no public roads could be closed off by the LMA or any authority other than a cantonment board, the SCB in this case, without following the procedure laid down for the same under Section 258 of the Cantonment Act, 2006, and alleged that the LMA often took "shelter" under an order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court passed on September 26, 2014 to justify its "unauthorised" closing of roads.
He also highlighted the fact that in September 2018, the Ministry of Defence had reviewed the matter of the closure of the roads and had insisted on the absolute necessity for the following of the procedure prescribed under the Cantonment Act in the closing off of roads. He added that the ministry had clearly said that no public road in any cantonment could be closed by the LMA/CB without following due processes.
"Showing its blatant disregard of all guidelines and instruction set out by the MoD, the LMA has continued to close roads. In fact, the body keeps increasing the number of such closures. This is regretful and disappointing. Apart from it leading to suffering for millions of people, the LMA's actions need to be questioned as it is disobeying and neglecting its own guidelines," the minister added.
He requested the defence ministry to give the necessary instructions to the LMA to immediately open all the closed roads and restrain it from taking any "unilateral and arbitrary decisions" for the closure of any public roads without following the due process detailed in Section 258.
This is not the first time that KTR has brought up the matter. He has already written a series of letters
to the national defence ministry requesting their intervention in resolving the long-pending issue of the "unauthorised" closure of the AOC roads.