With winter round the corner, Indore Central Jail authorities are looking to tap into the demand for fine blankets and mats, and are planning to put ones made by inmates on sale.
The blanket and mat weaving unit was started in the prison in June last year under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Skill India initiative. 71 prisoners took part in the endeavour and have made 1,300 finished blankets and mats.
Till now, the Indore Central Jail, the state’s most populated, used to make the blankets and mats for itself and 123 other prisons in the state.
But as inmates showed interest and authorities encouraged them, production grew at a faster rate, leaving the jail with a surplus.
Omkar Singh, unit incharge and master craftsman, said prisoners are given special training for manufacturing and weaving the blankets and mats.
The initiative not only helps prisoners to polish their skills, but make them self-reliant, he said, adding that they will be able to earn a living when they are released as they will be given a certificate of the vocation course they attend here.
Jail superintendent Dinesh Nargave said the unit was set up with the objective of engaging the inmates in productive work. “Over time, there has been manifold growth in the scope and activities of the prison factory,” he said.
Singh said initially they had provided three months training to the inmates. “Once they start showing interest, we encouraged them and started paying them daily wages.”
A skilled inmate earns `110 per day, while the semi-skilled and unskilled inmates earn `64 per day.
A jail official said they are planning to come up with selling points for the blankets and mats and the process towards this has begun.
State DIG (jail) Sanjay Pandey said currently two emporiums “Kanha” are being run at Bhopal and Ujjain, and the department is planning to open a third at Indore.
He also said that there is no need to take separate permission to sell blankets and mats through the emporium.
At the central and district jails in Indore, vocational programmes have been running for years and in recent times new training programmes have been introduced.
Inmates are being trained in printing press, offset printing, leather goods manufacturing, steel utensils, wood carving, carpentry, screen printing, knitting, tailoring, and pot-making. The blanket-making unit is the latest addition to the factory programme.