Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa on Thursday said the Punjab Jail Development Board, to be established on the pattern of Telangana, would be made functional this year.
Interacting with media on his department’s functioning in the last four years and targets fixed for next one year, Randhawa said Punjab would be the second state after Telangana to set up such a board for self-sufficiency of jails and to strengthen their infrastructure. Former DGP (Jails) Telangana VK Singh and Director, IIM Rohtak Dheeraj Sharma have been appointed as advisors by the government to study the Telangana model and replicate it in Punjab.
Randhawa said that while the products manufactured in Punjab jails have an annual turnover of Rs 1.25 crore to Rs 1.5 crore, whereas Telangana jails, with just one-fourth the capacity of Punjab, had a turnover Rs 600 crore, out of which Rs 550 crore come from petrol pumps only.
He said 12 petrol pumps of Indian Oil would be coming up in as many jails of Punjab.
Randhawa said that the Punjab Prisons Development Board Act had come into force and Punjab Prisons Development Board Rules have been framed with appointment of two independent members SP Singh Oberoi (director, Sarbat Da Bhala Trust) and Monica Dhawan (director, India Vision Foundation). Randhawa said that the board aims at unlocking “the commercial potential of jails, enhancement of capacity of factories in them, to ensure the department becomes financially self-sufficient and to enable prisoners gain new skills with a view to make them employable on release”.
He said the jails department would be recruiting 960 staff members, 10 Deputy Superintendents of Jails, 46 Assistant Superintendents, 815 Warders and 32 Matrons and Clerks and technical staff .
Also in the pipeline, he said, was implementation of Artificial Intelligence based CCTV surveillance system in jails, setting up of 105 video conferencing studios in various jails with adequate infrastructure and connectivity for the trial of inmates through video conferencing. The trial by video conferencing, he said, will help state save Rs 45 lakh per day
The minister said a project of body worn cameras sponsored by Union Ministry of Home Affairs would be undertaken with an aim to ensure behavioural therapy of inmates through a psychological approach. “The other steps in the offing include the purchase of staff vehicles for jail superintendents who have not been provided official vehicles in last 20 years, setting up of the prisons headquarters, operationalization of Central Jail, Goindwal Sahib and Women Jail, Bathinda,” he added.
The minister further said that in a bid to equip the jail staff with modern weaponary to handle any untoward incident, the department has purchased 310 INSAS Rifles and 71 pistols.
Randhawa said the CRPF has been deployed in Central Jail Ludhiana, Kapurthala, Bathinda and Amritsar in order to strengthen the security of prisons and to curb the supply of contrabands/ prohibited articles into jails apart from manning the high security zones in Jails and the main entrances.
Randhawa, who is also Minister of Cooperation, said that they were setting up CNG and ethanol plants at cooperative sugar mills at Gurdaspur and Batala at a cost of Rs 687 crore. While Gurdaspur unit will manufacture ethanol, the Batala mill will be a CNG unit.
Randhawa said even though SGPC did not allot tender to Verka for supply of desi ghee, it has recorded an additional sale of 32 per cent on its products.
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