The rampant drug problem in Punjabs prisons,with reports stating that around five per cent of the inmates are hard core addicts,has forced authorities to contemplate setting up de-addiction centres in the jails,particularly for prisoners who exhibit withdrawal symptoms. The de-addiction centres would be set-up within the hospital complex of each prison and authorities plan to rope in NGOs to assist with the project.
Sources said that in a recent meeting chaired by the Principal Secretary (Home and Justice) DS Bains on February 28,revelations were made that every year more than 5,000 cases are registered under the NDPS act and narcotics are seized. Last year alone,the Punjab Police registered 5,375 cases under the NDPS Act and seized drugs worth Rs 430 crore.
The DG (Prisons) Shashi Kant reportedly stated in the meeting that a large number of seizures have been made in the last three years and the use of drugs had reduced in prisons. Problems have arisen because the tighter control has convicts and under trials showing withdrawal symptoms.
Sources said the DG was asked to formulate a comprehensive plan to tackle the problem. It was also indicated that the total number of drug addicts in the jails should be identified so that the problem can be addressed systematically.
We have given doses of Bupemorphine at Kapurthala jail for the first time to the inmates who were showing withdrawal symptoms and now we will be tying up with NACO for a regular supply of the medicine. Also shortly we expect to start dosages of Methadone to inmates in jails as part of a pilot project of the UN. Delhi,Imphal,Kapurthala,Mumbai and Bathinda have been selected for the UN pilot project, Kant said. A nodal hospital will also be identified and tripartite agreement between the UN,state government and the hospital will be signed, he added.
Meanwhile,in the meeting it was also discussed that the jammers should be installed at the Nabha and Sangrur jails and for that all objections of the finance department should be cleared as soon as possible. Also,the Prisoner Management Information System which was set-up in the Ludhiana Central Jail at cost of Rs 20 lakh along with a CCTV system should be replicated in other jails as well and for that the DG (Prisons) has been asked to work out the modalities,sources said. It was also decided in the meeting that the entire jail staff should be prohibited from carrying cell phones in the prisons and for their work and coordination they will be given wireless walkie talkie sets.