THE prisons department is awaiting a response from the state revenue department before hiring architects to design its new prison facility at Mankhurd in central Mumbai. While the state government has agreed in principle, it is awaiting a communication from the revenue department on the plot as a part of it is allocated for erecting a carshed for the upcoming Metro rail project.
“A part of the plot has been allotted to erect a shed for the ongoing Metro rail construction. We have told the revenue department to allot us the remaining portion so that we at least commence our plan on the layout,” said a senior official from the prisons department.
However, this is not the only roadblock faced by the department, with some part of the land falling under Coastal Regulation Zone or CRZ , the feasibility of using the plot excluding the part falling under CRZ is also been explored. “A small portion of the land falls under CRZ. The revenue department will give clarity if the same could be used or not,” added the official. “Even if the portion has to be forgone, it won’t be a huge piece and we could still continue with the plan,” added the official.
Once allotted, the prison facility will ease the problem of overcrowding in jails in Mumbai and its satellite towns. Arthur Road and Byculla jail in Mumbai and Thane, and Kalyan and Taloja jails are facing problems of overcrowding.
Last year, the government sanctioned to build an additional jail in Mumbai that would house ‘VIP’ prisoners. However, the exact nature of the prison, whether it will be a central or district jail, and the facilities that should be provided will be studied once the land is transferred to the prisons department.
“A call on whether it should be central or district jail will be taken only after the land is handed over to the prisons department. We will also take professional help to design the facility. This would include deciding on the type of cells to house prisoners or whether or not we should have an open area like Yerwada jail in Pune,” the source added.
According to sources, Mankhurd prison might be operational within a few years. “ We are aiming to complete the planning and construction activities within two to three years so if everything goes as per plan the facility should be operational within a couple of years,” added the official.