Two schools in Mumbai have been identified and proposed to be set up as temporary jails for inmates of Byculla women’s jail and Arthur Road jail.
Earlier, the state home department had issued notification authorising district collectors to take provisional possession of government-owned or private buildings to designate them as temporary prisons to isolate inmates during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mumbai City Collector Rajeev Nivatkar said a meeting with civic officials was called last week to identify places where inmates can be housed. “Since certain requirements as per the jail manual have to be followed even while setting up a temporary jail, a proposal was sought from the prison department detailing its requirements. Based on this, a few options were given, including civic schools. Two have been identified,” he added.
Officials said that since the buildings will house inmates, the first priority was to ensure security. “Jail manuals also specify requirements like proper ventilation, bathrooms and alleys, which had been specified in the proposal,” said Deepak Pandey, Inspector General (Prisons).
One of the schools, near the Byculla jail, will house new women inmates being sent to judicial custody. “The school will be used to send new inmates for a 14-day quarantine, following which they will be taken to the main jail,” said an official. The other school, in Mumbai Central, will be used to house inmates of Arthur Road jail.
Currently, while all male undertrial inmates in Mumbai and Thane districts are being admitted to Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai, women prisoners are being sent to Byculla, Thane and Kalyan jails.
Across the state, 23 districts have set up temporary jails in schools, colleges and hostels, according to an affidavit filed by the prison department before the Bombay High Court earlier this week. Officials said that after a school is allotted in Kalyan, new admissions will also be sent to the prison, apart from Taloja. Over 1,000 inmates, both male and female, are lodged in temporary jails across the state.
Meanwhile, the 54-year old inmate at Byculla Women’s Jail, who had tested positive for Covid-19, has recovered and returned to the prison this week. As many as 120 inmates from Arthur Road jail who had tested positive, too, have recovered, officials said.
The HC has been informed that three inmates, who had tested positive, had died in Taloja jail, Yerwada jail in Pune and in Dhule. Of the 9,000 inmates who were to be released after the high-powered committee directed the release of all undertrials with certain exceptions, so far, over 1,000 have been released.
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