Packed into cramped cells, the 3,000-odd inmates of Birsa Munda Central Jail in Hotwar can hope to breathe more freely soon with the prison authorities managing to clear land hurdles for a proposed subdivisional jail in Bundu, 40km from the capital.
A 14-acre plot has been identified on NH-33, which is not forest land and is also free of other restrictions. Birsa Munda Central Jail superintendent D.K. Pradhan said the land was finalised three weeks ago and senior jail officials including inspector-general S.S. Tiwari had inspected the spot as well.
“We have identified land behind Panchawati Dhaba on the highway where the jail will come up. We have acquired the land and process of payments to holders will be initiated soon,” he said.
At a meeting in New Delhi in April, Tiwari had pitched for three new subdivisional jails in Bundu (Ranchi), Chakradharpur (West Singhbhum) and Hussainabad (Palamau). The meeting was with ministry of home affairs officials to discuss the second leg of the prison modernisation scheme which is completely funded by the Centre.
Construction of four subdivisional jails in Barhi (Hazaribagh), Ramgarh, Nagarutari (Garhwa) and Madhupur (Jamtara) was taken up as part of phase one of the scheme last year, which officials said were almost ready.
Pradhan said the subdivisional jail in Bundu will have the capacity to house 350 to 400 heads, including jail staff. “The entire area is around 14 acres,” he added.
He added that construction of the subdivisional jail should have been taken up in the last financial year itself but could not be due to pending clearances from the forest department. “Earlier, we had identified a different plot opposite the present site which was not cleared by the forest department. We finally dropped it and managed to identify a new area, which is free from any such problems,” said Pradhan.
Tiwari could not be contacted for comment as he was away touring West Singhbhum to review existing jails and also in connection with the new proposed facilities.
According to Pradhan, of the five central jails, the one in Hotwar is under huge pressure.
“The problem of staff crunch is there across the state but Birsa jail, which is meant for 2,700 inmates, is currently home to around 3,000, which adds to the burden. So, once the new facility comes up, we will transfer few inmates to Bundu. Also, local criminals could be lodged there. A civil court is also proposed there,” he said, adding it would reduce the burden on security and transportation issues.