The Maharashtra prison department plans to set up a multi-storeyed facility in Mumbai that can accommodate up to 5,000 inmates to ease the pressure on Arthur Road Jail there which is crowded and offers no scope for expansion, a senior official said on Tuesday.
Additional Director General of Police (Prisons) Sunil Ramanand said the prison being envisaged will be on the lines of the Miami Correction Facility in the United States of America to tide over the acute paucity of land in the metropolis.
"The Women and Child Welfare department in Chembur has agreed to give us a 15-acre plot. If we get this land, we can build a multi-storeyed prison. Arthur Road Jail is overcrowded and cannot be expanded any further," he said.
"There is urgent need to build prisons in the state. The number of inmates rose for 24,000 to 36,000 in the city in the last 10 years. Incidentally, 13,000 inmates are out on temporary bail due to COVID-19, so the current prison population is around 33,000. There are plans to build prisons in Pune, Hingoli, Palghar and Gondia," the ADG informed.
Ramanand also said he had sought an amendment in the Code of Criminal Procedure so that producing inmates in court in virtual mode is also considered, as the current rules stipulate that evidence cannot be recorded if the accused is not physically present in court.
"We have sought that the appointment of officials above the rank of deputy superintendent of prison should be done through competitive exams instead of walk-in interviews. We are also strengthening the canteen facility by adding ready-to-eat items, fish, chicken, branded eatables, dry fruits, fruits, mineral water, ghee etc. All these things will have to be purchased by the inmates. They are allowed to spend up to Rs 4,500 per month and each one has an account into which their families can transfer money," the official said.
He added that some 2,300 inmates had been vaccinated against COVID-19 so far.