No farming has taken place on the agricultural land belonging to four of the five jails in Bundelkhand region since last month.
The reason: There is no water.
The Banda District Jail is the worst hit with no water even to carry out day-to-day activities like bathing and cooking. The others — Jhansi, Orai, Hamirpur, Mahoba and Lalitpur district jails — are also headed for a similar fate if the state government did not take immediate action, said an official. Among the five, farming is taking place only in Orai jail.
Jail officials are now being forced to purchase vegetables from the market. “The prisoners used to cultivate vegetables on the land. Since the water crisis, there is shortage of water even for day-to-day activities,” said an official.
On April 15, prisoners from Banda jail went outside — under police security — to fetch water. The jail, which caters to 1,350 prisoners — more than double its capacity of 567 — has a five-acre farm land located next to it.
According to officials, the crisis started last month when the water level started going down. Now, the district administration has started sending two water tankers — carrying around 1,500 lt — to Banda jail. “We are trying to manage things with less water. Farming has been totally stopped,” said Haribaksh Singh, Banda jail superintendent.
In Mahoba jail too, the water level is decreasing gradually. “If this continues, we may also have to request the district administration to send a water tanker,” said Jailor Anand Singh. Moreover, the water tank inside the jail has not been functional for several years. “Hence, there is no facility to store water… We are forced to depend on regular supply,” he added.
While Mahoba jail has a capacity of 350, it has 175 inmates. The jail has 12 handpumps and a few of them have become non-functional due to decreasing levels of groundwater, said the official. “The jail has half an acre of agricultural land where inmates used to do farming. Following the water crisis, farming has stopped,” he added.
Officials said water crisis at Jhansi, Orai, Hamirpur and Lalipur jails is yet reach the danger mark. “The water level has gone down but there is no emergency like situation. We are managing,” said Orai Jailor Kailash Chand. The jail, which has a strength of 770 inmates but caters to 350, has two submersible pumps, one tubewell and four handpumps. Farming on its agricultural land continues.
However, it has stopped at Hamipur jail. “We stopped farming due to the falling water level. Two submersible pumps inside the jail are working… this helps us fulfill our daily needs,” said Jailor K P Singh. The strength of the jail is 713, which is more than double its capacity of 400 inmates. The jail has seven acres of agriculture land.
The Jhansi jail, meanwhile, has the maximum number of inmates when compared to the other four jails. Its strength is 1,055, more than double its capacity 416. “We are getting water and it is sufficient. Water from the old well in the jail is meeting our daily needs… But farming on agricultural land has been stopped,” said Jhansi Superintendent A K Mishra.