The daily wages that the inmates get for their work in the prisons in Maharashtra have been hiked by Rs 15 each for skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers by the state government. There are 24,000 inmates in 43 jails of the state.
The daily pay per day per task for a skilled worker has been raised from Rs 40 to Rs 55. For semi-skilled workers, the hike has been from Rs 35 to Rs 50, while unskilled workers will now get Rs 40, up from Rs 25. The 43 jails include central prisons, district prisons, open jails and a jail colony in Maharashtra. The hike would take effect from this month, said officials.
In almost all these jails, inmates are employed in activities like carpentry, metal work, leather work, soap making, bakery and agriculture. The wages of the inmates in the open jail have been raised to Rs 70 per day.
“Wages in the jails of Maharashtra were low compared to those in states like Karnataka, Gujarat and Delhi. A committee was set up by the state government under Additional Director General of Police (Prisons) Meeran Borwankar, which also comprised representatives from the labour department. Based on the recommendations of the committee, the state government has ordered the hike,” said an officer from the Yerawada Central Prison.
The officer added: “These revised wages are still low as compared to jails like Tihar where a skilled worker gets Rs 80 per day. We must understand that ideally the inmates should get wages compared to basic minimum wages but it can be achieved step by step.”
Yerawada Jail Superintendent Yogesh Desai said the order issued by the home ministry would be implemented with effect from September. The money that the inmates get is deposited into their jail account. The prisoners can send the money to their families.
“As per the procedure, the inmate writes to family members asking if they need money. If they reply in the affirmative, the jail authorities send a money order on behalf of the inmates,” said a prison department officer.
With this money, prisoners can also buy things like beedis, cigarettes of the brands allowed in the jail, soaps, oil from the jail canteen for use within the prison.
Incidentally, actor Sanjay Dutt is lodged in the Yerawada jail where he has been categorised as an unskilled worker, earning Rs 25 per day. He would now get Rs 40 per day. A Yerawada jail officer said the 54-year-old, serving his sentence in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, was still kept in isolation from other inmates. “From the beginning, he has been given the job of making paper bags. In the workshop where other inmates work, there are metal tools and other objects. Based on the threat perception to Dutt, he is made to work in isolation,” he said.