Tamil Nadu

Vellore Prison Bazaar set to be revived soon

Many of the bazaar’s outlets were shut after alleged revenue misappropriation by jail employees and inmates.

Many of the bazaar’s outlets were shut after alleged revenue misappropriation by jail employees and inmates. | Photo Credit: C. VENKATACHALAPATHY

The defunct Prison Bazaar will get a new lease of life soon as authorities are working on the modalities to restart the initiative, which was launched a decade ago.

Officials said the Prison Bazaar, located opposite the prison campus at Thorapadi, was in a dilapidated condition with thick bushes covering the entire structure. The bazaar was opened back in 2013 to provide reformation and rehabilitation opportunities to prisoners. A part of the money the prisoners earned was deposited in a bank account as their wages while the rest was utilised for the development of prison industries.

With affordable rates, the bazaar’s units were a big draw among residents in and around Thorapadi near the Collector’s bungalow a few years ago. However, many of its outlets were closed down after allegations that jail employees had been colluding with inmates to swindle some of the revenue began circulating.

The initiative is being given a fresh lease of life by Deputy Inspector General(DIG), Central Prisons (Vellore), Senthamarai Kannan. “The bazaar will be revived soon as the initiative will not only give an opportunity for inmates to sharpen their skills but will also give them hope for a fresh start after their release from prison,” a prison official said.

In the past, officials said the Bazaar had a restaurant, vegetable stall, open-air dining, saloon, cloth-pressing unit, tea stall, professional photo studio and fish stall. At the canteen near the bazaar, run by the inmates, a variety of dishes, including pongal, idli, dosa, vada, lemon rice and other variety rice, were sold.

Organic farming was done in a 40-acre plot on the prison premises, where convicts cultivated a range of vegetables, including brinjal and green chillies. Most were used by the prison complex, which has around 950 inmates, including inmates of the special women’s prison. In addition, the leather products made by the inmates of the Central Prison are well known for their craftsmanship in terms of the finishing and designs.

At present, officials said only the petrol bunk was being run by the inmates near the prison on Bagayam Main Road.

As part of the plan to revive the bazaar, manufacture of farm and leather products would be taken up. More inmates could be involved in the exercise to help them earn some much-needed income. The defunct brick kiln, started seven years ago in 2015, will also be revived soon, officials added.

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Printable version | May 27, 2022 8:13:37 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/vellore-prison-bazaar-set-to-be-revived-soon/article65351048.ece