More often than not, prisons are in the news for controversies. But now a significant and long-overdue modernisation drive has been undertaken at all jails across the state by the Maharashtra Prison Department, headquartered in Pune. Along with getting computerised the jails will get metal detectors, security cameras, walkie-talkie sets, mobile jammers to various modern kitchen facilities.
At present, Maharashtra has nine central jails, 28 district jails, five open jails and new districts jails are coming up in Sindhudurg, Jalna, Nandurbar and Gadchiroli. Some of the existing jails will get new barracks.
The 13th Finance Commission has allocated funds for the modernisation of the prisons in the state, which has given a push to several long-pending infrastructure development initiatives.
The recent government resolutions from the Home Department of Maharashtra state show that the state government has approved several important projects for the development. The government recently granted the implantation of security enhancements worth Rs 7.5 crore that includes installation of multi-zone door frame metal detectors, around 100 hand held metal detectors, 28 mobile jammers, communication sets including the static sets and walkie-talkie sets, closed circuit TV set up which comprises of pan-tilt-zoom camera, indoor high density fixed camera, indoor dome cameras, storage devices, generator sets and auxiliary devices.
The state has also sanctioned a Rs 1.1 crore project for computerisation of various record keeping and processes at the central and district prisons. Under the project, over 150 computers, printers, scanners and supporting infrastructure is to be procured. A senior prison department official said some of the equipment has started arriving and the procurement will be complete in coming months.
Additional director general of police (Prisons) Meeran Borwankar told The Indian Express, “The funds for the projects have come from the Finance Commission and also from the state government. Directorate of Information Technology (DIT) of Maharashtra has also been helpful.”
Various prisons across Maharashtra, including Yerawada Central Jail and Open Jail in Pune, have seen cases of seizures of cellphones. In one of the cases, marijuana was seized at the gate of Yerawada jail just as it was
being taken in.
Jails have also seen several cases of fights among prisoners, some of which have led to murder— such as the recent murder of terror suspect Quateel Sidiqui inside the high security ‘anda cell’ inside Yerawada jail.
Also, in a recent submission, Yerawada jail authorities had told a court that they fear a ‘severe law and order situation’ in the jail given the presence of several organised criminal gangs — many of them rivals of each other and suspects and convicts from terror-related cases. “The security and infrastructure development was long due in the prisons. We hope this continues further and we keep up with changing technology,” said a senior officer from Yerawada jail.
The prisons will also get kitchen facilities such as a roti-maker, special pans to keep food hot for inmates and a mushroom-growing facility for various prisons in the state, starting with the Yerawada central jail.