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Cantonments in Maharashtra Virtually Undisturbed by Civilian Cacophony All Around

While Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Dehu Road, Khadki and Pune fall in the Pune district, Deolali is in the Nashik district and Kamptee

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Cantonments, Maharashtra, Virtually
Maharashtra has seven Cantonment Board-administered areas, falling partly or within highly-populated civilian regions. Pixabay

The Cantonments in Maharashtra, unlike most urban centres in the state, are renowned for their lush greenery, cleanliness, disciplined lifestyle of the personnel working and residing with their families there, virtually undisturbed by the civilian cacophony all around.

Maharashtra has seven Cantonment Board-administered areas, falling partly or within highly-populated civilian regions. While Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Dehu Road, Khadki and Pune fall in the Pune district, Deolali is in the Nashik district and Kamptee in the Nagpur district, there are specific zones for the armed forces (army, navy and air force) in Mumbai, Thane and some other cities.

The Cantonments in Maharashtra have well-maintained common features, like huge open spaces, good internal roads, spacious living areas, top-class educational institutions, hospitals, facilities for leisure and recreation such as jogging parks, golf courses, swimming pools, private theatres/cinemas, exclusive shopping hubs, with little or no civilian interaction.

Although the Cantonments have their own administrative setup through the Cantonment Boards, frictions with the local civilian authorities were common with the Cantonments jealously safeguarding their territories from the civilians, said a former air force officer, declining to be identified.

Cantonments, Maharashtra, Virtually
The Cantonments in Maharashtra, unlike most urban centres in the state, are renowned for their lush greenery, cleanliness, disciplined lifestyle of the personnel working and residing with their families there. Pixabay

As a result, the civic bodies have to struggle hard for implementing town planning or common civic amenities and other public welfare schemes encompassing the Cantonment areas, often with stiff opposition. Many a times, politicians are peeved when they are not allowed to campaign in these areas during elections.

A majority of Cantonments, carved out with strategic aims during the British era, are quite secluded and thinly populated. But the situation right outside their boundaries spells utter chaos and confusion.

Outside the serene Cantonment areas in both Mumbai and Pune, one often gets to witness densely populated unplanned settlements, massive traffic snarls, high pollution, near absence of greenery, and lack of open spaces or accessible leisure facilities.

“Though they respect us immensely, somehow this tends to create that feeling of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ among some civilians who envy the purportedly ‘cool lifestyle’ of the people living in the Cantonment areas,” said a retired officer with a laugh.

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Despite growing urbanisation all around, the Cantonment areas would stand out like ‘oases’ in the dense urban jungles in view of the specific needs of the armed forces stationed there, he added. (IANS)

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PM Narendra Modi Launches Plan to Tackle Water Shortage in India

Modi Unveils Plan to Tackle Water Shortages in India's Heartland States

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PM Modi
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to the media inside the parliament premises on the first day of the winter session in New Delhi, India. VOA

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched a 60-billion-rupee ($842 million) plan to tackle water shortages in the country’s seven heartland states where agriculture is a mainstay.

India, the world’s second-most populous country, faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history as demand outstrips supply, threatening farm output and overall economic growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.

Almost every sector of the $2.6 trillion economy is dependent on water, especially agriculture, which sustains two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people.

“Water shortages in the country not only affect individuals and families; the crisis also has an effect on India’s development,” Modi said. “We need to prepare the new India to deal with every single aspect of the crisis.”

The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water and boost overall availability in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat states, which produce staples such as rice, wheat, sugar and oilseeds.

PM Narendra Modi
The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water. Wikimedia Commons

India is the world’s leading producer of an array of farm goods, and nearly 60% of the irrigation for agriculture comes from ground water, mainly through electric water pumps. Subsidised electricity gives farmers an incentive to pump out more water, a key reason behind fast-depleting water tables in the vast country.

Supplying clean drinking water to millions of poor people and reviving moribund irrigation projects were a key part of Modi’s policies for India, where the monsoon accounts for nearly 70% of the annual rains needed to water farms and recharge aquifers and reservoirs.

Nearly half of India’s farmland, without any irrigation cover, depends on annual June-September rains to grow a number of crops.

Drinking water is also an issue, as about 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to safe water and 600 million face high to extreme water stress, according to the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, a think tank chaired by Modi.

According to UK-based charity WaterAid, about 163 million people in India — roughly 12% of the population — do not have access to clean water close to home.

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Every summer water shortages tend to be more acute in large cities such as the capital New Delhi, Chennai — a car-making center dubbed “India’s Detroit”, and Bengaluru, the country’s software capital.

Modi also exhorted farmers to increasingly adopt drip and sprinkler irrigation and use water-management techniques as well as eschewing water-guzzling crops such as rice and sugar cane. (VOA)