The Punjab jails department's initiative to revamp prison canteens seems to be clicking, with sales up from Rs. 30 lakh to Rs. 1 crore per month. The department had initiated reforms in March in an effort to check drug supplies and provide quality goods.
The department has now tied up with wholesale and retail giant Metro Cash and Carry to supply items in jail canteens.
"The Metro wholesale prices are lower than the market prices. The goods are sold at a very nominal profit. The profit earned will be spent on the welfare of prisoners," said Rajpal Meena, additional director general of police (ADGP, prisons), Punjab.
He said private canteens had been wound up, adding that the new ones were being run by prisoners who had shown good conduct over the past five or six years. "This initiative will be helpful in reforming prisoners and promoting discipline so that they integrate into society after their release," said Meena.
These canteens are monitored by the head office under the supervision of senior officers.
A strict check on drugs is possible now as the goods purchased by visitors are sealed before being provided to the inmates. Also, corrupt practices such as selling overpriced goods without any cash memo by the jail staff would be curbed.
"Electronic billing machines have been installed in all jails and the issuance of bills is mandatory," he said.
Earlier, visitors had to purchase from shops and hawkers near the jails. They were offered inferior items at exorbitant prices.Meanwhile, a centralised society has been registered for efficient management of welfare work for prisoners and jail department employees, said Meena.