Hyderabad: After a surge in the number of Coronavirus patients in Telangana, including 10 positive cases reported in one day, Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao extended the lockdown in the state till 15 April. Amidst this, 62 cantonment boards in 19 states and Union Territories are helping states in the fight against the Corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Instructions have been issued to all cantonment boards to identify beds in hospitals, health centres, and guest houses in case of any eventuality. Presidents and chief executive officers of the boards are also in constant touch with civilian authorities in their respective areas and are providing the required assistance whenever needed. All cantonment boards are strictly adhering to the advisories issued by the ministry of health department.

Cantonment office buildings, residential areas, school premises, libraries, parks, and markets are sanitised regularly. Residents are being sensitised about the virus via public announcements through loudspeakers, informative notices, hoardings/pamphlets displayed at all prominent places, offices and market areas in the cantonments. Resident medical officers are also organising workshops for all personnel dealing with essential services and demonstrating precautions to be taken in avoiding transmission of COVID-19 and simultaneously preparing the Cantonment General Hospital (CGH) for any emergencies. Action plans have been prepared according to the directions of the Director General Defence Estates (DGDE) and all CGHs are working full-time to provide medical assistance.

Cantonment boards are providing masks, gloves, and sanitisers to the entire staff. All hotels and restaurants in cantonment areas are directed to strictly follow the advisory and ensure that their surroundings are hygienic. Task forces comprising office staff have also been set up to ensure the supply of essential commodities and food items reach the people, especially the poor residing in the cantonment areas. All groceries/kirana stores have been warned against black marketing and asked to prevent large gatherings of people and follow the lockdown guidelines set by the government. The cantonment boards are also ensuring continued and undisrupted water supply and street light services. Helpline number for residents has been made functional in most of the cantonment areas.

The cantonment boards, which are democratic bodies, are responsible for the overall municipal administration of the cantonment areas. This unique structure of the boards is being maintained successfully keeping in view the fact that the cantonment areas were and are primarily meant to accommodate the military population and their installations. Cantonments are different from military stations in that the latter is purely meant for the use and accommodation of the armed forces and these are established under an executive order, whereas cantonments are areas that comprise both military and civilian population.

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