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New jails to ease convict jam in state

Calcutta, Feb. 7: Wiser after the population in jails across the state ballooned as a result of the 46-day strike by lawyers, the government has decided to set up four new prisons.

“We had to face an ordeal in December as the number of inmates went up sharply in almost all the 53 jails in the state because of the unavailability of release bonds following the lawyers’ ceasework. We won’t take chances. We are confident that the new jails will help us face any such eventuality in future,” said inspector-general of prisons Joydeb Chakraborty.

Prison officials, however, said more convicts and a rise in criminal activities in the districts were equally responsible for the decision. “We are badly in need of new jails to accommodate the prisoners, whose numbers are phenomenally rising in almost all the jails because of the rise in criminal activities. The administration fails to properly monitor the inmates of a jail if it is over-populated,” they said.

The new jails are coming up at Baruipur in South 24 Parganas, Kalyani in Nadia, Haldia in East Midnapore and Raghunathpur in Purulia, at a cost of Rs 10 crore. They would be ready by the end of the year, said Chakraborty.

He added that the setting up of the jails was part of the overhauling of the prisons in the state with a Rs 71-crore fund from the Centre for the next five years.

“More than 19,000 prisoners are now lodged in jails across the state,” said Chakraborty.

Deputy inspector-general of prisons Anup Tripathi said: “We chose the four spots on the basis of a survey that showed the areas were most crime-prone. Moreover, the proposed jails will help reduce pressure on the five central jails.

The government has earmarked Rs 5.39 crore to renovate the Alipore central and Presidency jails in the city.

Tripathi said a separate prison directorate is being set up at the Alipore jail so that it can serve as the headquarters for some key prisons in the city and its neighbourhood. A guest-house and an auditorium are being built at a cost of Rs 1.4 crore.

“Officials at the Alipore prison directorate will interact with their counterparts at Writers’ Buildings to expedite cases involving the prisoners,” he added.

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