Tihar warms up to its inmates

December 24th, 2011 - 5:35 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 24 (IANS) Four blankets per person, 10 rooftop solar-water heating systems, piping hot food served in trolleys. No, these are not the boastings of a new hotel, it’s Tihar Jail’s plan of action to keep its inmates warm in Delhi’s stinging cold winter.

As the minimum temperature drops down to five degrees Celsius in the national capital, jail authorities are making sure that the over 12,000 prisoners are served hot food, warm water and clean blankets.

“The solar water-heating system is set up in sub jail Number 6 and the main kitchen. Hot water is provided to women inmates as they fall sick more often during winter. The males can also get warm water if they fall ill. Hot water can be used for bathing, washing and cooking,” a jail official said.

Till last year, only undertrials at the Mulahiza ward for first-time offenders were provided hot food from custom-made trolleys. But from this time, the jail authorities are offering hot food to all the inmates.

“From this winter, the trolleys will provide hot food to all the inmates and not just the first-time offenders. We received requests from several inmates to serve them hot food,” another jail official said.

The prison provides three meals a day that usually consists of roti, rice, dal and one vegetable dish.

The inmates are also being provided four blankets, unlike in summer when they get only one blanket each.

The prison launched its own blanket manufacturing unit Dec 9 at the sub jail number 8.

“We started an in-house blanket manufacturing unit as the demand is more and we can give good quality blankets to all,” Tihar Jail’s spokesperson Sunil Gupta told IANS.

Tihar, one of the largest prison complexes in South Asia, houses almost 12,200 prisoners against the sanctioned strength of 6,250.

“If each prisoner is given four blankets, we needed at least 48,800 blankets. Moreover, a blanket lasts only for four years. So the prison intends to manufacture about 10,000 blankets a year,” Gupta said.

While the prisoners are roped in to weave the blankets, the polishing work has been outsourced. “But we will later try to set up a system to polish the blankets too,” Gupta said.

He said these blankets would only be used for in-house purposes and not be sold outside like other products manufactured in the prison.

According to a source in the jail, “these facilities have come up this year just because the jail houses many high-profile accused inside. They would not have come up with these facilities otherwise.”

He added that certain VIP prisoners were given more blankets so that they could use them like a bed.

Brushing aside the allegations, Gupta said: “No special treatment is given to any VIP inmate. We allow jail inmates to get blankets from their homes, provided it should be single bed blanket, not a double sheet.”

Currently, former communications minister A. Raja and sacked Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi are lodged in Tihar Jail.

(Pratibha Raju can be contacted at pratibha.r@ians.in)

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