Idle hands in jail workshops | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Idle hands in jail workshops

Maharashtra’s 33 jails used to generate a revenue of Rs 200 crore every year — twice what the city’s municipality spends to develop open spaces in Mumbai. That was until 2006.

mumbai Updated: Oct 12, 2009 01:12 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari

Maharashtra’s 33 jails used to generate a revenue of Rs 200 crore every year — twice what the city’s municipality spends to develop open spaces in Mumbai. That was until 2006.

Since then, industrial workshops at these jails, which once manufactured over 75 products, have fallen silent for want of raw material.

The Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission has now issued a show-cause notice to the state government and the inspector general of police (prisons) asking for reasons why the workshops were closed.

“It is a violation of the rights of the (jail) inmates,” Justice Khsitij Vyas, chairman of the rights panel, said in his order issued last Thursday.

Inspector General of Police (Prisons) Uddhav Kamble said: “Work has been stopped temporarily as there are problems with the tendering process (of buying raw material). We want those industries to flourish.”

Justice Vyas issued the order after visiting prisons at Nashik, Ahmednagar and three other places in the state last month,
and found the workshops had been closed since three years.

“Due to closure of the workshops, the inmates sit idle — they have nothing to do,” he observed.

Corporate giants like Hindustan Lever Ltd, Mahindra and Mahindra, CEAT Tyres and VIP Bags once outsourced work to these jails, creating jobs for 15,000 inmates across eight central jails and 25 district prisons.

“This was because semi-skilled labour at these workshops was available for Rs 17, skilled for Rs 24 per day,” a jail official said, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

“The state had directed all its departments to give preference to these workshops when purchasing items like medical gowns, furniture, shoes, mattresses and bakery products.”