The Telegraph
Saturday , June 21 , 2014
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New waiting room at Birsa jail for VIP relatives

Birsa Munda Central Jail in Hotwar may not have the money to repair its defunct CCTV cameras and phone jammers, but will soon flaunt another waiting room for visitors.

The jail authorities are building a room adjacent to the existing waiting area to cope with the steady stream of visitors who come to meet their relatives lodged behind bars, especially VIPs.

Prison officials said that while the existing room called Mulakati Kaksh could accommodate 20-25 people at a time, the new one would have space for over 35 people.

Construction is going on in full swing at present.

“The lone meeting-cum-waiting room on the premises is very small and congested. As a result, it becomes very difficult to manage the crowd most of the time. Lack of space is also very risky from the security point of view,” reasoned jail superintendent D.K. Pradhan.

Though Pradhan couldn’t give the exact funds allocated for the purpose, sources pegged the sum at Rs 8 lakh to Rs 10 lakh sanctioned by the state home department.

The state building construction department has undertaken work and the new room is likely to debut by the end of this year.

“Construction began 15 days ago. The room is being built in the empty space right next to the old waiting room. We have transferred funds to the department concerned and expect the new facility to be ready by this November or December,” Pradhan said.

Regarding the facilities that will be in place, another jail official said the benches would be bigger than the existing ones.

“Apart from tile floors and the usual ceiling fans, we have plans to add drinking water kiosks in the room,” said a warden.

Pradhan further said that while they could handle the normal visitors, problems arose when friends and relatives came to meet the VIPs lodged in the 68-acre prison on the state capital’s outskirts.

For instance, a few months ago, the jail had hosted former Bihar chief minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav after his conviction in a fodder scam case. At present, JMM bahu Sita Soren is lodged inside the prison in a cash-for-vote scam.

“When such high-profile prisoners arrive, many people turn up to meet them. We can’t allow everyone to meet the person concerned directly. Neither can they be allowed to loiter inside the jail. So, a waiting room was the need of the hour,” said Pradhan, but couldn’t offer any answer when asked about the fate of the defunct CCTVs and phone jammers, which are a must for maintaining security.

“It’s beyond my control now. Please ask the home department or IG prison. From my end, I have informed them many times about the need to repair the security gadgets,” he said.

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