Mumbai: No more private moments for convicts in Maharashtra, not many anyway. With the state government's nod to a Rs 7.5-crore modernisation plan, all the central jails in the state will be put under 24/7 CCTV surveillance. Criminal activities within jails have been a major cause of concern for cops as well as the government. In the past, local police have recorded series of clashes between groups inside prisons.
To put an end to the increasing menace, last year, jail authorities had put forth a proposal for CCTV cameras under the modernisation plan to impose round-the-clock surveillance. "Funds have been sanctioned and we have been working on the modalities to ensure that the entire set-up is in place in a few months," confirmed Inspector General of Police (Prisons) Surendra Kumar.
As per the data made available by jail authorities, the state has cleared funds to the tune of Rs 7.58 crore under the modernisation plan for state prisons. Of the total, they have been allotted Rs 2 crore just for setting up CCTV cameras.
Officials said that to begin with, they have decided to install cameras in eight central jails located at Kolhapur, Yerwada, Nashik, Nagpur, Thane, Mumbai, Amravati, Taloja and a district jail in Kalyan.
Each central jail will have a separate server at its superintendent's office, who will monitor things from there. "Once the department gets used to the set-up, we will consider installing cameras at all prisons in Maharashtra," an official said.
Not just CCTVs, authorities have also got the approval to purchase 19 door frame metal detectors, 94 hand held metal detectors, 18 mobile detectors, 200 sets of walkie-talkies and ten generator sets. Officials are now waiting for the government to issue advertisements inviting tenders for the same.
"Any sanction above Rs 25 lakh has to be routed through the state government. Since the entire project's worth is about Rs 7.5 crore, all the deals will be channelled through the government," said a source.
Another pertinent problem has been that of undertrials languishing behind bars without proper hearing. Due to shortage of staff, not all prisoners can be escorted for hearing of their respective cases.
However, in several past instances those prisoners who were not even required for their proceedings kept frequenting the courts. As a result some undertrials, whose cases were in the final stages were not able to visit the court and remained behind bars for years.
"As we came to know about this problem, we ensured only those undertrials whose cases are at final stages should be taken out of jails," said Kumar.
Jail officials have also implemented a strict diet scale for prisoners who have been allowed home food by the court. Of the 6,000 prisoners in Mumbai, around 150 have been granted permission for home food.
"During a recent round-up, I saw that a murder accused was sitting with at least four to five pieces of chicken. Obviously the feast wasn't just for him. He would have wanted some other prisoners to share the food as well. Following this, I had issued letters to all the jails to ensure that a proper diet scale is followed when it pertains to allowing home food for prisoners," Kumar added.
To put a stop to clashes among rival groups inside prisons, officials have decongested some overcrowded jails. Around 500 prisoners from prisons such as Thane, Kalyan and Arthur Road Jail have been moved to the newly constructed Taloja Central Jail in Panvel.
Also, hardcore criminals such as underworld don Arun Gawli, Chhota Rajan's right-hand man DK Rao and Malegaon blast accused Shrikant Purohit have been shifted to Taloja. Special arrangements have been made to ensure that all these gangsters do not face each other.