Bhanu P Lohumi
Tribune News Service
Shimla, March 25
The Prison Department has successfully implemented the ‘Har hath ko kam’ initiative under which manufacturing units have been set up in jails and inmates are paid wages for producing various goods. To develop the spirit of co-ownership among the inmates, it has now started sharing with them the profit of the products sold.
‘Tofu’ in good demand
- ‘Tofu’ cheese is in good demand from hoteliers and the required machinery has been installed at a cost of around Rs6 lakh.
- The inmates are making ‘tofu’, which is being supplied to hotels in packs of 250 gram to 1 kg, as per the demand, in and around Dharamsala.
The inmates are engaged in the manufacturing of bakery products, handloom, cloths, besides carpentry and welding and about 6 per cent to 7 per cent of 2,606 prisoners, including 107 women, lodged in jails in the state are allowed to go out and work in Himkara stores (stores opened by the department to sell their products), mobile food vans, factories and other places.
“A portion of the profit is shared with the inmates to cultivate the spirit of co-ownership, reducing pilferage to zero,” said Somesh Goyal, DGP, Prisons and Correctional Services, the man behind the initiative.
The turnover of the prison industry was hit by 15 per cent to 20 per cent due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The sales reduced from Rs 4.38 crore in February 2020 to Rs 3.68 crore in February 2021. However, the wages paid to the inmates remained almost static, registering a fall of Rs 6 lakh only. The wages paid in 2020 and 2021 were Rs 1.34 crore and Rs 1.28 crore, respectively.
“People have gone through a lot of stress due to Covid and the families of the inmates are no exception. However, the manufacturing and production activities continued in jails and wages were paid to support the families of the inmates,” said Goyal. The sales resumed during the unlock period and has gained momentum now, he added.
The silver lining was that the sale of bakery products picked up during the pandemic, recording a profit of 9 per cent; bread and bakery products were available at the Kaithu jail when these items were not sold at other outlets during the lockdown.