Hyderabad and Secunderabad form one of the few twin cities of the world. Secunderabad is located on the northern side of the Hyderabad urban agglomeration. The cities have merged through an imaginary line drawn across the Tank Bund, which is still used to demarcate the cities. The Secunderabad Cantonment comprises a number of defense establishments. In 1798 through an alliance signed between Hyderabad's Nizam Sikander Jah and the British East India Company, an area north of Hussain Sagar Lake was made into a cantonment named Secunderabad after Nizam Sikander Jah. Presently, Secunderabad Cantonment area falls under the Secunderabad Cantonment Board, which is a local body falling under the administrative control of Ministry of Defence, Government of India. Primarily, the Secunderabad Cantonment Board is responsible for carrying out the civic amenities to the residents of the Cantonment area. The area of Secunderabad Cantonment is about 40.17 sq. km and the civil population is 2,06,102 as per the 2001 census.
Historically, cantonments were places where the army of colonial government had to be exclusively quartered in an effort to keep the armed forces totally insulated from the ruled. Cantonments meant quarters assigned for lodging troops, a permanent military station created by the British government in India for the location of military formation away from the civilian towns and insulated from the Indian nationalist influences. Housing was the core objective. Subsequently, housing itself attracted the civil population to reside in the cantonments and the economic spin-offs attracted other activities. The bazaar area was recognized and the anatomy of the cantonment got clearly defined with military, the bungalow and civil areas clearly defined. The cantonments as local self-government organizations have always remained a puzzle. The civilian population wants to be in it but is uncertain about their status and their future.
Due to repeated demand for reforms by the representatives of cantonment population, the Cantonments Act, 1924 was enacted to introduce local self-government in the cantonments, which contained substantial civil population. The Act was the first model municipal Act for cantonments, but in its implementation, decentralization and democratic norms were largely compromised because of the status of the citizen who occupied the property only as a licensee of the Government.
In 2006 the Cantonments Act, 1924 was replaced by the Cantonment Act, 2006 with a view to impart greater democratization and improve the financial base of cantonments to make provision for developmental activities, etc. Presently there are 62 Cantonments in the country distributed among five Army Commands. The cantonments are categorized as Category I, Category II, Category III and Category IV on the basis of the civil population. As per the latest Census, Secunderabad cantonment area falls under Category I, with a population above 50,000.
In the current urbanizing scenario, Hyderabad Urban Agglomeration (HUA) is the sixth largest in India, with a population of 5.75 million in the year 2001. Compared to the MCH, the level of services and infrastructure in Secunderabad Cantonment has been poor. In addition to this, the lack of a comprehensive development plan/ master plan for the cantonment has further exacerbated the situation. The City Development Plan prepared for Hyderabad under JNNURM does not include the Secunderabad Cantonment Area. The Cantonment Act 1924 revised in 2006 has provision for preparation and Implementation of Town Planning Scheme, but the Act does not have any provision for preparing a Comprehensive Development Plan. It is in this context that the Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB) was requested to prepare a cantonment development plan to forecast the requirements of basic infrastructure facilities, and submit it to central government for funding under JnNURM.