A proposal by the Union home ministry to modernise and reform overcrowded jails in India with an investment of Rs 4,000 crore (Rs 40 billion) in the next few years has been shot down by the Union finance ministry.
The home ministry had moved the ambitious proposal for the finance ministry’s clearance following demands by various states facing serious problems in augmenting their jail facilities.
The proposal included construction of 500 modern and high security jails and installation of pay phones to let prisoners make limited weekly calls to relatives.
Upgrading existing facilities, better medical services, closed circuit cameras and modern electronic gadgets for enhanced security in jails were also visualised.
The finance ministry considered the proposal for nearly 10 months before saying it cannot provide the money for the ambitious plan, a top government official told Hindustan Times.
The decision has dealt a blow to several states, including Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar and Punjab that had been demanding central assistance to modernise and reform their jails.
The states had told the Centre that most of their jails were either overcrowded or in poor condition.
Reminding the home ministry that prisons were primarily the responsibility of state governments, the finance ministry said the central government was in no position to arrange funds for the plan.
Home ministry officials were asked to come up with such a plan only after two years and advised to think of modernisation and expansion of jails through the public-private partnership model.
The finance ministry told home ministry officials to approach the Planning Commission if it wanted funds to carry out the jail reforms.