BANGALORE: Barracks — those plain and uniform living quarters for military personnel — are slowly giving way to three-storeyed concrete structures.
Derived, as the Oxford English Dictionary suggests, from the French baraque or Italian baracca and originally meaning a temporary hut or cabin, barracks have for over 200 years been a part and parcel of Army units in India.
Today, with the Army units facing a space crunch for living quarters, training classrooms and offices, especially in the urban areas, barracks are being pulled down.
One of the oldest units in the Indian Army, Madras Engineering Group (MEG), has come up with alternative accommodation for some of its 2,700 recruits.
The MEG, which has over a 100 barracks — all built before Independence — on its 800-acre campus in Bangalore, will, in the next three years, try to replace them with modern structures.
Brig. R.M. Mittal, Commandant, MEG, said: “All of our barracks were built before 1932. Maintenance of these old buildings is not only expensive but difficult. Even replacing a leaking or broken tile takes some doing. Post-Independence, we have not constructed any barracks.”
He said that the single-storeyed barracks take up space that can be used for larger and more modern physical training facilities.
Brig. Mittal said that while barracks accommodate between 25 and 40 recruits, the modern three-storeyed building that MEG has put up, houses 400.