In a first, UP to transform five jails into high-security prisons by 2023
Under the pilot project, govt starts the process in dist jails of Lucknow, GB Nagar, Azamgarh, Chitrakoot besides Bareilly central prison
In a first-ever move, Uttar Pradesh has started a process for transforming five of its jails into maximum security prisons.
Under the pilot initiative, the district jails of Lucknow, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Azamgarh and Chitrakoot besides the central prison at Bareilly are being equipped with high-end gadgets for better security and surveillance, say state home department officials.
“The work has started in earnest and we expect the five prisons to get fully ready in around two years’ time,” says additional chief secretary, home, Awanish Kumar Awasthi.
“The plan is not just to arm the prisons with high-tech equipment, including a network of CCTV cameras with a central control room, but also to impart special training to jail staff to handle new-age equipment and also arm them with modern weapons needed to undertake their responsibilities effectively,” he added.
Some of the equipment being installed in these prisons include non-linear junction detectors (used for detecting hidden electronic items like smart phones etc) besides dual-view baggage scanners, x-ray based full human body scanners, drone cameras to high-end hand-held metal detectors among others.
After taking over, CM Yogi Adityanath in 2017 had initiated an exercise to equip prisons in the state with improved mobile phone jammers having proper power back-ups, CCTV cameras and metal detectors to check the activities of criminals who operate their gangs and execute crimes from behind the bars.
The decision to transform the five prisons into high-security jails is in line with this very initiative, say the officials privy to the development.
For this purpose, the state government has recently sanctioned ₹20.35 crore. In follow-up, UP prison administration and reforms department has already floated e-tenders for procuring dual-view baggage scanners and x-ray based full human body scanners that are to be procured at a cost of around over ₹6.5 crore.
“For the staff of these jails also, night vision binoculars and body worn cameras are being procured,” said an official aware of the development.
“In these jails, the state government also plans to put up concertina wire fencing (specially designed spiral wire, broadly used for fencing purposes) as well as construct meeting rooms having contactless glass akin to those in prisons in developed countries so as to prevent physical contact with visitors and chances of their passing on a banned item to an inmate,” the official added.
“These prisons will also have effective and reliable intercom system, state-of-the-art firefighting capabilities like water mist and CFR fighting systems as well as adequate capacity to stop illegal and banned items from entering the prisons and their search by use of metal detectors and even deep search metal detectors that can detect items buried underground and in walls,” he added.
The state has 71 prisons of various levels, including five central jails at Naini (Prayagraj), Varanasi, Fatehgarh, Bareilly and Agra, and three special jails at Lucknow and Bareilly besides a Nari Bandi Niketan. The total capacity of these prisons is around 60,685 inmates but according to the website of the prison administration and reforms, over 1.08 lakh inmates, including 27,127 convicts and 81,116 undertrials, were lodged in UP jails as on January 31, 2021. They include 323 foreigners as well.