Mumbai: After the Maharashtra government ordered schools to reopen across Mumbai and its suburbs for classes 8 to 12 on October 4, the District Collector of Mumbai and Thane has written to the prison authorities to vacate the school allotted for quarantine centers as the temporary jail for inmates.
The letter from the district collector had requested the prison authorities to vacate and hand over the schools to the administration. However, the prison authorities have requested the authorities and school department to extend the time till December.
The Mumbai and Thane collector had issued the letter to Arthur Road Mumbai Central Jail, Byculla District jail (men and women), Thane Central Jail, Aadharwadi Jail in Kalyan, and Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai had received the letter.
FPJ has the copy of the letter issued on October 4, 2021, by Sadanand Jadhav, Deputy District Collector, Mumbai to the Superintendent of Arthur Road Jail and Byculla District Jail. The letter states the Maharashtra government had ordered the school to reopen by October 4 for 8 to 12 standards. However, the ES Patanwala Urdu School at Byculla and Municipal school near S-bridge, Byculla are a temporary COVID care and quarantine center that has been created to accommodate inmates from Mumbai. The letter states the schools should be vacated and handed over back to the education department.
The letter further informs the prison officials to attend a meeting at the district collector office on October 5 at 4 pm. The meeting was attended by the superintendent of Arthur Road, and Byculla District Jail including the Deputy education officer, Mumbai, and assistant municipal commissioner of E-ward, BrihanMumbai Municipal corporation.
NB. Vayachal, Superintendent of Mumbai Central Jail, who attended the meeting confirmed the letter being received and said, "We inform the authorities that the threat of covid-19 still emerges. We request the authorities that they should extend the handing over time till December. As the prison department had no other option or place to keep the inmates found positive or those newcomers found with such symptoms," added Vayachal.
In September this year, around 45 women inmates from Byculla women prison tested positive and were kept in the quarantine center in Byculla school. "Any new inmate is sent after an RT-PCR test and kept at the quarantine center or temporary jail for safety. After 14 days they are shifted to jail after a test. At present, the municipal school had 124 inmates from Arthur road jail and few others from Byculla jail," said an official from the prison department.
Similarly, the school allowed in Kalwa for Thane Central Jail inmates and one in Kalyan for inmates of Aadharwadi Jail had 200 inmates each. "In such cases shifting these inmates to jail is a risk. Firstly, if the prison authorities had space, they would have not requested a temporary quarantine center. The school is safe as it has rooms and security. If a quarantine center is arranged at an open space it has a high risk of inmates running away," said an official from the prison department.
The prison department had also requested to allot a covid-center nearby jail. The temporary jail was a part to decongest the jail as the prison is still facing overcrowding.
Sources from the Aadharwadi jail said, "They are waiting for the security to shift and vacate inmates from the quarantine center. They will vacate mostly by Monday," added the official.
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