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Funds crunch biggest issue for Ramgarh Cantt
Ramgarh, Sep 8 (IANS) The Ramgarh Cantonment Board (RCB), established in 1940, is the best example of maintaining civic facilities despite a big fund crunch. It’s also unique from other 61 Cantonment areas in the country, as of the 10,535 acres land under it, 9,000 acres are owned by the civilians and only 1,535 acres form the army area.
The British had established the Cantonments either in the hilly region or on the river banks. "In Ramgarh Cantonment, considering the security threat to the army personnel, the British decided to allow the civilians to build houses in the area. The civilian area accounts for around 85 per cent of the Cantonment, but is managed by the Cantonment Board," Sapan Kumar, CEO of the RCB, told IANS.
The rising population, which increased from 88,000 in 2011 to 1.25 lakh in 2019, and funds crunch are big challenges to maintain civic amenities. Of the 62 Cantonments, the RCB occupies ninth position in maintaining the civic amenities. In one year, from 2018 to 2019, the RCB has gained 24 steps to rise from the 33th to the 9th position in maintaining the civic amenities.
However, the population pressure and funds crunch could be witnessed in the condition of roads in the Cantonment. The maintenance of roads, cleaning, water supply and other things are gradually turning into a tough task for the RCB management.
Of the 16 members of the governing body, eight are elected from eight wards and a similar number of members are nominated.
As per the data, the RCB sought RS 33 crore in the 2019-20 budget from the Defence Ministry, but only Rs 9 crore was allocated. The RCB generates Rs 3 crore through taxes and gets Rs 5 crore from the army for maintaining civic amenities. Thus, the RCB has only Rs 17 crore to maintain the area. "The Defence Ministry never allocates funds as per the requirement, citing that 85 per cent area is of civilians," said sources in the RCB.
According to RCB officials, Rs 1.50 crore is needed per month for staff salary, pension and necessary works, like sanitation, purchase of petroleum for cleaning vehicles and other things. At present, the RCB pays Rs 4 lakh a month for power for the RCB office and hospital and to reduce the energy bill, the solar plates have been installed.
Even the state government hardly supports the RCB despite 85 per cent of the area being occupied by the civilians.
"We raised the grant issue with the state government several time. It agreed to give the grant but we could not source it directly from the state government. The RCB does not have PL (profit and loss) account in which state government transfers the fund. We have to move to district administration for the fund," Kumar told IANS.
The RCB is running seven schools and one hospital. The medicines are provided free of cost to the civilians. The RCB school doesn’t get the proper grant from the state government despite the fact that the children of civilians attend these schools.
The water is supplied through pipeline in six wards. The water treatment plant is working for last 20 years in the RCB. The RCB is trying to generate funds to supply treated water to two other wards. The RCB supplies water to tank at the 50 per cent rate to civilians compared with municipal bodies.
The Ramgarh Cantonment also houses a Chinese cemetery, where army personnel from China, Japan and other countries, who were killed in the World War II are buried. The relatives of soldiers still visit the cemetery.