Updated: March 13, 2021 9:22:22 pm
Racing against time in Telangana is a bunch of prisoners as they are tasked with a one-of-a-kind job. In less than two months, they are required to supply the state government 20,000 S-type chairs made of steel and teak wood, 5,200 steel tables, and 2,600 steel almirahs.
Going by the officials of Telangana prisons and correctional services, the task is also a recognition by itself and its completion on time is a matter of prestige.
Till date, over 650 prisoners attached to the steel furniture fabrication unit are working in two shifts of eight hours each to meet the deadline in the single largest work order, of whopping Rs 16 crore, received by the department.
The order for furniture, the biggest ever from the state government, has kept the officials on their toes, such that the work had to be distributed amongst different jails across the state to meet the deadline.
While the Cherlapally Central Prison was supposed to meet the order requirements, the department has roped in similar units in Chanchalguda Central Prison, Warangal Central Prison, apart from jails in Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Mahabubnagar, Sangareddy, Khammam, and Nalgonda.
“During COVID-19 pandemic when there was a requirement for steel cots and stools, we supplied thousands of them to the government hospitals on short notice. This order is a good recognition of our work,” Director General of Prisons Rajiv Trivedi told indianexpress.com, adding, “As this is a huge order for our items, we have decided to distribute the work among various prisons.”
The government has placed the order for furniture to be used at the offices of Rythu Vedikas (farmers’ forum) that are coming up across the state.
Launched in October 2020 by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, the Rythu Vedika scheme aims to create a platform for farmers to help them attain higher returns. The government has plans to set up as many as 2601 Rythu Vedika offices across the state where farmers can organize themselves and discuss issues concerning them. It is envisioned as a one-stop centre for farmers at the village level.
Stating that the prison inmates are working day and night to meet the deadline, M Sampath, the superintendent of Cherlapally central prison, said that the department started delivery of items on February 24, 2021, and so far has been able to supply 30 percent of the entire requirement. He said prisoners not only earn more than their daily wage of Rs 100 based on the work done, but the deadline has also allowed them to work in a professional environment and upskill themselves.
“At Cherlapally, we are making 60 percent of the total requirement. About 350 inmates are working in two shifts and by the end of April, the job will be done,” he added.
Dr D Srinivas, the superintendent of Chanchalguda Central Prison, the Nizam-era jail located in the city, said about 200 prison inmates work from 7 am to 3 pm and from 3 pm to 10 pm everyday and are paid their incentives based on the number of items fabricated. If, for example, a steel almirah is made by three or four inmates, the incentive of Rs 1000 will be shared among them.
“It also creates a sense of pride in our inmates that all Rythu Vedikas across the state will have furniture fabricated by them. This is also their contribution to the farmers and the society,” added Sampath.
At present, over 6700 prisoners are lodged in different jails across Telangana. Among them, nearly 2000 inmates are convicts while the rest are facing trial or remanded to judicial custody.
The Telangana prisons department-run industries make an annual turnover of Rs 600 crore. Of this, nearly Rs 550 crore is from the 25 petrol bunks it runs by employing ex-prisoners. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the department also set up a hand wash and sanitiser factory, a modern weaving and cloth mask production unit. Under the brand name “My Nation”, the department also has outlets selling products manufactured by prison inmates.
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