Yerawada central prison is well-known and has a history behind it. A less-known fact is that it churns out products of a good quality, made in
its manufacturing units by jail inmates. The prison is getting ready to roll out a new, premium product — which is actually age-old — the traditional Paithani sarees known for their golden embroidery (known as zari in weaver’s parlance).
The textile unit of the prison is training inmates in finer details of Paithani weaving, taking the cue from Nashik jail where production of the ethnic silk wear for women has already begun.
The weaving of the traditional silk saree with gold embroidery and a distinctive “pallu” (border) carrying the design of a pair of peacocks
interspersed with a geometrical pattern had started in Nashik jail about a year ago as an experiment.
Deputy inspector general, state prisons department, Swati Sathe said, “We began training Nashik jail inmates who were already working in the weaving unit.
We brought in expert weavers from outside to train them. These inmates quickly picked up finer details.” Yeola, a town in Nashik district is famous for Paithani sarees.
Sathe said the first Paithani the jail inmates made last December had a price tag of Rs 8,000. “The price depends on how much zari (embroidery) work or gold embroidery the saree has. But because cost of skilled labour is less in our case, the prisoners get daily wage stipulated by prison norms, each saree costs at least Rs 2,000 to 4,000 less as compared to the cost of a saree made outside the jail.
Weavers outside take at least two to three months to make a saree, as they simultaneously work on several sarees. But our people work on one or two sarees at a time and we complete a saree in 17 to 20 days,” Sathe said.
She said, “Manufacturing has begun in Nashik jail and we are making sarees as per orders placed. Weaving will start at Yerawada in three to four weeks.”
The Maharashtra prisons department has a showroom in Yerawada where products from various manufacturing units are displayed and sold.
The prisons department recently launched a brand of their products with a logo – MaKa – which is an acronym for Maharashtra Karagruha (prison). The Paithanis will also sold under the same brand name.
Sathe said, “In the initial stages, we plan to limit ourselves to production as per orders placed with us as we don’t want to compromise on quality. We soon plan to start similar units at Kolhapur, Amravati and Nagpur jails.”
The textile unit of Yerawada prison is training inmates in finer details of Paithani weaving.