CSS Groups – Military Lands and Cantonments

This article is part of the series where we introduce various CSS groups so the aspiring candidates may know more about these groups before joining them.

The word Cantonment is derived from French word Canton which means corner, quarter or separate district. In the Indian subcontinent, Cantonments are the permanent bases of armed forces.

A garrison is an enclosed military base where there is no civilian presence whereas, in a Cantonment, military forces normally reside with civilians.

In, Pakistan, legally an area is a Cantonment, once it is declared as a Cantonment under the Cantonments Act 1924.
Military Lands and Cantonments Group (MLCG) is a Central Superior Services (CSS) Group. MLC officers normally serve in the MLC department which is an attached department of the Ministry of Defence. As the name suggests, this department manages Military Lands and the Administration of Cantonments.

MLC Department is headed by Director General (grade 21) Officer. Since 1999, this post has been occupied by Army officers of the rank of Major Generals. An MLC officer of grade 21 serves as Additional Director General. The MLC Headquarters are located at Murree Road Rawalpindi near the Ministry of Defence.

The composition of the MLC department

The composition of the MLC department is as follows;
Headquarters MLC – headed by DG MLC (Grade 21)
There are 44 Cantonments and 11 Military Estates Circles which are divided into 6 MLC Regional Headquarters (RHQs) – Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta, Rawalpindi – and each is headed by a Director MLC (grade 20) officer.

An MLC region would have Cantonment Boards headed by Cantonment Executive Officers (CEOs) and Military Estates Circles (MECs) headed by Military Estates Officers (MEOs).

Cantonments have local self-government and are managed by Cantonment Boards. A Cantonment Board consists of elected Civilian members and nominated special and members from the local military authorities.

Cantonment Executive Officer (CEO) is the Principal Accounting Officer and Secretary of the Board. Cantonment Board performs municipal and local government functions in the cantonment.

Military Estates Officer (MEO) manages the military lands on behalf of the Federal Government. Military Estates officer may be in grade 18 or 19.

Karachi Region

Military Estates Circles (2) – Karachi, Hyderabad
Cantonment Boards (8) – Clifton, Faisal, Hyderabad, Karachi, Korangi Creek, Malir, Manora, Pano Aqil

Lahore Region

Military Estates Circles (2) – Gujranwala, Lahore
Cantonment Boards (7) – Gujranwala, Kharian, Jehlum, Lahore, Mangla, Sialkot, Walton

Multan Region

Military Estates Circles (2) – Multan, Sargodha
Cantonment Boards (5) – Bahawalpur, Multan, Okara, Sargodha, Shorkot

Quetta Region

Military Estates Circles (1) – Quetta
Cantonment Boards (4) – Loralai, Ormara, Quetta, Zhob

Peshawar Region

Military Estates Circles (2) – Kohat, Peshawar
Cantonment Boards (9) – Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Cherat, Kohat, Mardan, Nowshera, Peshawar, Risalpur, Swat

Rawalpindi Region

Military Estates Circles (2) – Abbottabad, Rawalpindi
Cantonment Boards (11) – Abbottabad, Attock, Chaklala, Havelian, Kamra, Murree Galies, Murree Hills, Rawalpindi, Sanjwal, Taxila, Wah

Classification of Cantonments

  • Class III – A cantonment with a population is less than 50K. Normally managed by a CEO of grade 17.
  • Class II – A cantonment with a population is more than 50K and less than 100K. Normally managed by a CEO of grade 18.
  • Class I – A cantonment with a population more than 100K and is normally managed by a CEO of grade 19.

Laws applicable in Cantonments

  1. Cantonments Act, 1924
  2. The Cantonments (Requisitioning of Immovable Property) Ordinance, 1948
  3. Pakistan Cantonments Account Code 1955
  4. Cantonments Rent Restriction Act, 1963
  5. Cantonments Pure Food Act, 1966
  6. The Cantonments (Urban Immovable Property Tax and Entertainments Duty) Order, 1979

Rules applicable in Cantonments

  1. Cantonment Land Administration Rules 1937
  2. Pakistan Cantonment Servants Rules, 1954
  3. The Pakistan Cantonment Servants (Contributory Provident Fund) Rules, 1954
  4. Pakistan Cantonment Property Rules, 1957
  5. The Cantonment Boards Budget Rules, 1966
  6. The Cantonments Pure Food Rules, 1967
  7. The Pakistan Cantonments Cinematograph Rules, 1985
  8. The Cantonments Local Government Elections Rules 2015

Pros of MLCG

  • Working in a clean and secure environment of Cantonment
  • Local Cantonment board is a resourceful organization providing a quality lifestyle for an officer and his/her family
  • Less political pressure in the discharge of official duties
  • Experience in Land, Financial and Municipal services management

Cons of MLCG

  • An officer may be posted anywhere in Pakistan
  • Small CSS group with fewer chances of lateral mobility
  • Being a small group, the career progression may not be very smooth due to the sharp organizational pyramid
  • MLC department is being headed by a DG from the Army.
  • MLC officers though living in the Cantonments and paid from Defence Estimates are hardly considered eligible for any special discounts and favors enjoyed by Army officers and their allied organizations.