MAHARASHTRA Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said on Friday in Pune that a proposal to construct multiple new jails with modern amenities was under consideration of the state government to ease the existing overcrowding of inmates. Deshmukh was speaking to the media after he visited the Yerawada Central Prison in Pune, the largest prison in the state. He interacted with some inmates and also top prison officials during his visit. He toured various jail industry sections inside Yerawada Prison.
Interacting with the media, Deshmukh said, “Currently prisons in Maharashtra occupy much higher numbers of inmates than the actual capacity. Three days ago, we submitted two proposals before the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister. One of the proposals is for constructing new houses for the police force. The other one is for increasing the capacity of our prisons. We have proposed to construct new prisons with modern amenities at multiple locations in the state. Some of them will be multi-storied. Our jails have available spaces with them, which will also be used for this.”
The current capacity of the prisons in Maharashtra is around 23,200 but as on December 30, the number of inmates in these premises was around 30,700. As part of COVID decongestion effort, over 10,800 inmates both undertrials and convicts incarcerated for lesser and non-heinous offences that attract less than seven years of maximum sentence have been released either on provisional bail or parole since April.
Official sources said that the new prisons will be constructed at seven to eight locations in the state including those in Pimpri Chinchwad, Nashik, Nagpur, Thane, Mumbai and some other places. These new prison premises when constructed would add more than 14,000 to the present capacity of the prisons in the state. Of these proposed prison in Pimpri Chinchwad would have capacity of around 3,000, one at Mauje Mandale in Mumbai with over 4,100, Nashik 2,000, Thane 2,900 and Nagpur 1,660.
Deshmukh said, “On this first day of the year, I visited Yerawada prison, one of the oldest and largest prisons in the state and interacted with some of the inmates too. Some of them have spoken to me about various issues they are facing and have also given me representations. With the efforts of all the prison staff and officials, we have now been able to contain the spread of COVID-19 inside prisons. In the prisons where infections were reported, immediate measures were taken to control it. This is in spite of having much more number of inmates than the available capacity.”
In May, Maharashtra Home Department had empowered the District Collectors in the state to take provisional possession of government or privately owned buildings and designate them as temporary prisons which can be used for isolating sections of prisoners to avert spread of infections during COVID pandemic. 37 temporary prisons have been designated across the state, most of which are on the campuses of schools, colleges or hostels which have multiple separate buildings. These temporary prisoners currently house over 3000 men and women in addition to the current population of over 30,700 housed in main prison premises.
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