Water crisis in jails: UP govt to free 70-plus prisoners

  • Hindustan Times, HT Correspondent, Lucknow
  • Updated: Apr 30, 2016 16:32 IST
The crisis has been aggravated due to fall in the water table in several districts, particularly Bundelkhand and the Mirzapur region. (HT/Photo for representation)

With UP’s jails too facing a severe water crisis, the prison department, in a bid to solve the problem, has started releasing inmates who are aged 70 years and above.

The department also plans to release “just for the summer months” those who have five-six months left in their life sentence.

“Around 93 prisoners above 70 years have already been released and we have prepared another list of 1,800 septuagenarian inmates for release. We have also released 57 convicts who have five-six months of their 14 years sentence left,” prison minister Balwant Singh Ramoowalia said.

Talking to HT, Singh said, “Prison officers have been told to make adequate arrangement of potable water in all the jails. New tube wells have been constructed and tankers hired for regular supply of water.”

The crisis has been aggravated due to fall in the water table in several districts, particularly Bundelkhand and the Mirzapur region, Singh said, adding that district magistrates and municipal authorities have also been asked to ensure water supply to the jails.

Singh, appointed prison minister in November, 2015, said: “Majority of the jails have prisoners more than their capacity. To ease the pressure, the prison department is has planned the release of old prisoners.”

“We are also preparing a list of life convicts who have spent maximum part of their sentence in jails and are likely to be released within six months or so. These convicts would be released for the summer months with instruction to return back with the onset of monsoon,” Singh said. “The convicts would not violate the order as they know that after a few months they would be freed. Strict action would be taken against those who flout the order,” he said.

UP has 59 district jails, five central jails and three special jails collectively having a capacity of 51,000 prisoners. At present, around 1 lakh prisoners are lodged in these jails.

The seven districts jails in the parched zone of Bundelkhand -- Jhansi, Lalitpur, Orai, Hamirpur, Banda, Mahoba, Chitrakaoot as well as Mirzapur, Sonbhadra and Chandauli are facing water shortage, besides housing prisoners more than their capacity. Jails officials here have stopped plantation and farming on agricultural land on the jail premises.

The water crisis in Banda and Hamirpur turned so acute that inmates had to go out of the jail premises, under police watch, to fetch drinking water from nearby tanks. ADG (Prison) Devendra Singh Chauhan, who visited the jails recently, said, “Measures have been taken to ensure adequate water supply in both the jails”.

The prison department also plans to shift prisoners to newly-constructed jails in some districts -- Kasganj, Chitrakoot, Ambedkar Nagar, Shravasti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Allahabad, Bareilly, Azamgarh, Etawah and Rampur. These jails together will house 12,000 prisoners. Also, new barracks are being constructed in the old jails and they will be able to accommodate around 6,000 prisoners.

Bundelkhand district jails

Jhansi: Capacity - 416; prisoners lodged - 1080

Lalitpur: Capacity - 100; prisoners lodged - 326

Orai: Capacity - 430; prisoners lodged - 768

Banda: Capacity- 567; prisoners lodged- 721

Chitrakoot: Capacity- 300; prisoners lodged - 630

Mahoba: Capacity- 175; prisoners lodged - 363

Hamirpur: Capacity - 400; prisoners lodged - 690

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