The Directorate General Defence Estates, New Delhi, have advisory and executive functions in matters relating to management of Defence lands and Civic Administration in 62 Cantonments. The Directorate General presently functions through six Principal Directorates at Jammu, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Lucknow, Pune and Jaipur. The Principal Directorates in turn supervise a number of field offices, such as offices of the Defence Estates Officers, Assistant Defence Estates officers and Cantonment Boards. These field offices are entrusted with the day to day management of defence lands and Cantonment Boards across the length and breadth of the country.
The Ministry of Defence owns approximately 17.54 lakh acres of land throughout the country which is managed by the three Services and other Organizations like Ordnance Factory Board, DRDO. DGQA, CGDA etc. The Army has the maximum of the land holdings under its control and management i.e. 13.84 lakh acres followed by Air Force 1.40 lakh acres and Navy 0.44 lakh acres. The defence land inside the notified Cantonments is approximately 1.58 lakh acres and the remaining around 15.96 lakh acres lie outside the Cantonments.
The Directorate General has completed computerization of the land holding data and a data-CD for Defence lands outside Cantonments has been released by Raksha Mantri on July 13, 2011 to the Services. Moreover, projects on Scanning, Indexing and Microfilming of defence land records as well as survey, demarcation and verification of defence lands are being implemented by DGDE. Considering land as a precious natural resource, it has been decided that conduct of land audit will be resumed by the Directorate General.
The Defence Estates Department also undertakes hiring of residential accommodation and hiring/ requisitioning of land for the Armed Forces. In J&K requisition of immovable property is done under J&K RAIP Act, 1968.
Directorate General Defence Estates is also responsible on behalf of the Ministry of Defence to control, monitor and supervise the Civic Administration in Cantonments. There are 62 Cantonments in India. These are located in 19 States, including National Capital Territory of Delhi. The Cantonment Boards are ‘bodies corporate, functioning under the overall control of the Central Government and under the provisions of the Cantonments Act, 2006. Half of the members of the Cantonment Boards are elected. The Station Commander is the President of the Cantonment Board. Supervision and control over the working of these bodies is exercised through the General Officers Commanding in Chief and Principal Directors, Defence Estates at the intermediate level and by the Central Government through Directorate General Defence Estates at the apex level. Presently elected Boards are in place in all the 62 Cantonments.
The resources of the Cantonment Boards are limited, as the bulk of the property in the Cantonment is owned by the Government, on which no tax can be levied. Boards, however, receive payment of service charges in respect of Central Government properties. The Central Government provides financial assistance by way of grants- in- aid to balance the budget of some of the Cantonment Boards which are financially deficit. During the financial year 2011-12, Rs. 101.68 Crore was paid to deficit Cantonment Boards upto November 30, 2011.
To provide primary education, Cantonment Boards run primary Schools. A number of Cantonment Boards are also maintaining Higher Secondary Schools and Intermediate/ Junior Colleges. The total number of schools and colleges maintained by Cantonment Boards is 197.
Cantonment Boards are also maintaining 40 Hospitals, having 1360 beds and 39 dispensaries for providing medical services to the general public of Cantonments and nearby areas.
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Note: Source - Annual Report 2011-2012