The meeting of the State Level Advisory Committee on Jails was held today under the Chairmanship of Sohan Singh Thandal, Minister Jails Department Punjab. Presiding over the meeting held in his office in Punjab Civil Secretariat, Mr. Thandal informed that Punjab is the first State in the country to introduce modernisation and reforms in jail infrastructure at such a large scale. Giving details, he informed that there are 26 different types of jails in Punjab including the Central jails, Security jail, District jails, Borstal/ women jail and sub jails. Admitting that the present capacity of these jails is less than average prisoner strength, he added that department is fully aware of the problem and has already taken steps to redress the same. He informed that to counter the problem of overcrowding, four new jails are being constructed at Amritsar, Tarntaran, Bathinda and Sri Muktsar Sahib. With the operationalization of these jails the problem of overcrowding will be suitably resolved.
Talking of modernisation initiatives, Thandal said that most of the Punjab jails are equipped with X-ray baggage machines, video conferencing facility, CCTV cameras, televisions, RO water filters, Canteen and e-payment facility for the inmates. He said that to counter the problem of smuggling drugs into jails, stringent steps have been taken including search by trained sniffer dogs, checking of goods using X-ray baggage machines, creating multi-layered security rings, surprise checks of jails by District & Sessions Judges, District Magistrates and district police officials. Besides, strict action is taken against those found guilty of dereliction in duty so that it serves as a lesson for the others. Coupled to this, Drug De-Addiction Centres have been set up in jails on the guidelines of PGI Chandigarh to de-addict the inmates.
Further the process of filling up the vacant posts in the department has also been initiated, said he. The Minister informed that besides filling up the regular posts, special attention is being paid to create and fill the posts of computer experts as video- conferencing and other e-prison features require induction of techno-experts into the department. Besides, the Health and Education Departments have been sent in writing to fill the depute doctors and teachers in jails on priority. He further said that skill development initiatives for the inmates are also being catered and training is being imparted in bag/ toy making, plumbing, repair of electrical appliances, carpentry, hotel management, printing press work, carpet weaving, blacksmith etc. so that it may be easy for the prisoners to settle back in life after the completion of the term of their imprisonment. Even the factories/production units in jails have been upgraded like the bakery unit in Ludhiana jail, handmade paper unit in Central Jail Patiala and the towel stitching in Faridkot.
The members of the State Level Advisory Committee expressed satisfaction over the work being done by the jails department Punjab and also suggested to introduce Annual Maintenance Contract for the water filters, cameras and other equipment so that they may remain operational for a longer period. The members also suggested having regular Counsellors for the de-addiction centres. The members were assured that their concerns will be well taken care of.The meeting was attended by Mr. Deep Malhotra, MLA Faridkot, Mr. Darshan Singh Kotfatta, MLA Bathinda, Mr. Prem Mittal, MLA Mansa, Mr. Simarjit Singh Bains, MLA Ludhiana,Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Principal Secretary Jails and Mr. Rajpal Meena, ADGP jails.