THE ARTHUR Road Jail’s year-old plans to start video conferencing (VC) facility for getting medical treatment for inmates is yet to see the light of the day. The facility that had a trial run on July 29 last year remained mired in the red tape of meetings and lack of enthusiasm from the prison department, alleged authorities at JJ Hospital.
The state prison department had plans to link all nine central prisons and 38 district prisons across the state after tie-ups with six hospitals. As part of the plan, the department had approached the JJ Hospital in July 2014 to get assistance from their doctors to treat ailments of the Arthur Road prison inmates.
The plan was to make use of VC sets — through which inmates usually depose in courts — to communicate with doctors at JJ hospital where a telemedicine unit already existed. The facility was aimed to reduce the burden on the escort staff who had to accompany an inmate everytime he was taken to a hospital. Prison authorities also believed this would reduce the risk of an inmate escaping while being ferried to the hospital.
As per hospital sources, while both the hospital and prison authorities agreed to the plan, the latter did not follow through. While the trial run in July was successful, the hospital staff had given the prison department a list of things that would be required, like a telemedicine software, a separate server, high-resolution camera, a high bandwidth internet, among other things. “Once again, we have not heard back from them,” said a hospital employee.
Priyanka Mane, who manages the facility at JJ Hospital, has confirmed that it was yet to start but refused to show the reason for it.
When contacted, Inspector General (Prisons) Bipin Kumar Singh admitted that while in several prisons the facility was working, it was yet to start at Arthur Road Jail. “There are certain requirements that are to be met. We will soon be having a meeting and decision will be taken. The facility should start soon,” he said.