T.N. prisoners manufacture 23,000 surgical masks every day

The prison industry of Tamil Nadu is making proper surgical masks at a cost of ₹10 per piece for the police department.

The prison industry of Tamil Nadu is making proper surgical masks at a cost of ₹10 per piece for the police department.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

All inmates with tailoring skills roped in to meet the growing demand

Prison authorities have pooled in the expertise of all inmates with tailoring skills to increase the production of surgical face masks to meet the growing demand of the police department that has deployed thousands of its personnel to enforce the COVID-19 prohibitory orders and also maintain law & order in the State.

Shutting its tailoring units temporarily, the prison department commenced manufacturing face masks amid demand from government agencies involved in the prevention of coronavirus outbreak. To start with inmates in Puzhal, Tiruchi and Coimbatore central prisons rolled out 3,000 face masks per day. With the police asking for more, Director General of Police Sunil Kumar Singh asked inmates in three more central prisons to join the work and increased the productivity to 23,000 face masks per day.

“We are making proper surgical masks at a cost of ₹10 per piece for the police department now. We have so far supplied 1.5 lakh pieces. The production was increased to meet the demand of the police engaged in field work. Since there is acute shortage of face masks in the open market, private hospitals and establishments are approaching us. We declined an order for making 1 lakh masks recently because our focus is on to meet the requirements of the police force,” Mr. Singh said.

The prison industry of Tamil Nadu that showcases its products under the brand name ‘Freedom’ is one of the most profit making business models compared to others in the country. It has full-fledged tailoring unit, leather factory, bakeries, stationary making centres, book binding unit, and readymade garment industry among others.

Hand sanitisers

Though the prisoners are also making hand sanitisers it was presently being used for in-house consumption. The 135 prisons located across Tamil Nadu has a total capacity of 23,392. The occupancy of inmates, which was 62 per cent till recently was brought down to 51 per cent a week ago, with hundreds of suspects in petty offences released on bail directly from the prisons. Since there was no public transport due to the lockdown, suspects released on bail were being dropped home in police vehicles.

“We have limited resources and manpower. The objective of the prison industry is more to equip the inmates with income-generating skills and engaging them in productive activities and not in making profits. We are doing our best by making optimum utilisation of the infrastructure,” the DGP of Prisons said.

The prison department banned family interviews of prisoners as part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus. Personal audience to prisoners was being granted only to advocates after following the due protocol of safety measures advised by the State Health Department. However, the department procured smartphones to facilitate prisoners to be in touch with their family members by making video calls, twice in a week for convicts and thrice for undertrials.

Quarantine block

Mr. Singh said the prisons in Tamil Nadu had a system of quarantining all new inmates for a period of 14 days for many years now. “Newcomers with even minor symptoms of fever or flu are referred to the prison hospitals and if need be to the government tertiary care hospitals. There is no possibility of any inmate with communicable disease mingling with others.”

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 3:19:42 AM |

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