Feb 1, 2008

Tihar Jail To Earn Rs.60 mn From Pickles, Biscuits

Tihar Jail

South Asia's biggest prison, Tihar Jail, is making millions from the biscuits, pickles, pottery, furniture and other items made by its inmates. Earnings from these products are set to double to Rs.60 million by the end of March. "We expect to double our revenue to Rs.60 million by the end of the current fiscal year," said B.K. Gupta, director general of police (Prison). "Last year we had earned Rs.30 million through the sale of our products. We have kept Rs.12 million as the sales target of bakery items (which is supplied to schools and government institutions) as against Rs.8.5 million in the previous year," Gupta said at a press conference here Thursday.

Gupta said the state government had also increased the wages being paid to prisoners four times. "The prisoners were earlier being paid Rs.10, Rs.12 and Rs.16 for unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled labour respectively, which has now been raised to Rs.40 and Rs.44 and Rs.52 per day," he said. "In this new wages scheme, the provision for a Victim Welfare Fund has also been made and 25 percent of the wage earned by a prisoner would be credited to the fund," Gupta added.

Tihar officials are also heaving a sigh of relief, with the overcrowded jail recording a reduction in the number of inmates for the first time in past 20 years. A total of 11,605 prisoners (both male and female) were lodged inside the jail in 2007 as against 13,436 in 2006 and 12,580 in 12,717. The jail has a sanctioned capacity of only 6,250 inmates.

"The launch of the plea-bargaining concept in July last year has helped reduce the number of inmates. A total of 664 inmates were released under this scheme," the DGP said. Gupta said they were taking various measures to ensure the security of the jail and address issues related to prisoner health and welfare. "We are installing 258 closed circuit television cameras across the 400 acres of jail land. A control room would be set up in all 10 jails along with a master control at the prison headquarters."

"The work is expected to be completed by mid February. Mobile jammers would be installed in the next six months," Gupta said, adding that these measures were taken in the wake of increasing terror threats to blow up the jail, which houses parliament attack convict Mohammed Afzal and many terrorists. Gupta said a new jail complex was being constructed at Mandoli and land would also be acquired for the purpose at Narela, Ghitorni and Baprola.

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