The story dates back to 1981 when a proposal was presented to decongest Tihar, the biggest prison in Asia, and set up a jail complex that could share the crisis of accommodation of inmates that has become a huge concern for the authorities presently. However, the matter of fact is, what seemed quite imminent is still a distant dream.
Currently, Tihar has a capacity of 6,250 inmates but houses nearly 14,000 prisoners and to tackle this, a new jail complex in Mandoli was proposed which was supposed to begin operations from December 2014 but unfortunately, it has not been made functional yet. A highly placed source adds that the possibility of <g data-gr-id="70">Mandoli</g> to be functional from October this year is far from reality.
The construction of the jail at <g data-gr-id="94">Mandoli</g> in East Delhi is supposed to provide accommodation to 3,776 prisoners. The complex will house six jails, one for convicts, one for first-time offenders, and one each for long-term under-trials, <g data-gr-id="88">adolescents</g> and women. A separate cell has been constructed at the <g data-gr-id="95">Mandoli</g> jail for <g data-gr-id="87">high security</g> prisoners as well. The jail complex is spread over a 68 acre of land. Authorities say that various measures have been taken keeping the security issues in mind. The <g data-gr-id="96">Mandoli</g> jail will have proper air circulation systems in all wards and no electricity fixtures have been kept inside the wards. Inbuilt mechanism for CCTV, optical <g data-gr-id="84">fibre</g> cable network has also been put in place.
The <g data-gr-id="68">Mandoli</g> jail will have solar water heating system, RO system, sewage treatment plant and <g data-gr-id="69">rain water</g> harvesting systems. Residential accommodation for 604 staff members has also been arranged at the staff hostel. The total cost of constructing this jail stands at Rs 169 crore approximately. However, till date the jail has not started functioning despite such high-end facilities. Now, where is the problem?
In May this year, Delhi Home Minister Satyendra Jain had inspected the complex and a few loopholes had come to the fore. According to sources, the boundary wall of the jail is 16 feet high but the jail authority believes that it should be increased to 22 feet. Moreover, watch towers of the jail are at a lower height. Guards standing at the watch towers do not have a clear view as buildings in the area are taller and obstruct the view.
Jain had ordered the jail authority to submit a report to fix these security concerns. He had also asked them to give complete construction work plan and material required to finish the project. A major concern, however, is that the jail complex is situated in a residential area which is causing a huge problem in installing mobile network jammers. According to a CAG report, construction of <g data-gr-id="82">Mandoli</g> jail could not be completed due to frequent changes in concept, <g data-gr-id="98">design</g> and requirements. It also stated that the control over <g data-gr-id="97">entry</g> of prohibited items was inadequate, despite incurring huge expenditure on security items such as CCTVs.
Often <g data-gr-id="93">high security</g> prisoners are shifted from Tihar for various reasons such as for production in courts which pose a threat to the security of these prisoners. Often in the transit, the convoys are attacked in order to get these prisoners freed. If a jail comes up within the city, such situations can be averted. A senior prison official said: “The guards, who are given the job to ferry these criminals, run the risk of being attacked. More the <g data-gr-id="89">distance,</g> more is the risk.”
Repeated attempts to contact the PWD office, <g data-gr-id="108">in-charge</g> of carrying out the amendments at Mandoli
<g data-gr-id="161">Jail,</g> failed as no one was ready to comment on this. The website of <g data-gr-id="106">government</g> of NCT on its Central Jail page says: “There is also a proposal to construct jails at Narela and Baprola area in Delhi to decongest the existing prisons. For Baprola, the prison department has already made <g data-gr-id="105">requisition</g> to DDA for allotment of 40 acres land. Still the matter is pending for <g data-gr-id="103">issuance</g> of notification by the principal secretary (L&B), Land and Building Department, GNCT of Delhi for <g data-gr-id="104">acquisition</g> of land at Baprola village. After receiving the details of the land, the cost of land of Rs 17.80 crore (approx) will be deposited with DDA and thereafter the construction work will begin after making the provision of Rs 200 crore (approx) for construction in the 12th Five Year Plan.”
Amidst the problems being faced by the authorities, Tihar itself is constantly facing major problems. In a recent report, it was said that for all the 14,000 prisoners, there is only one counselor. The inmates to guards’ ratio too are very high in the prison.
Inaugurated in 2004, the Rohini jail which is a district <g data-gr-id="81">jail,</g> can house 1,050 inmates but disbursing the congregation is a major issue there too like Tihar. There is thus, an immediate need to de-congest both Tihar and Rohini jails in order to ensure better control over the criminals. Stories of gang wars and high-handedness of powerful inmates in Tihar is a biting reality today.
Hence, it has become absolutely necessary to make provisions to check on such malpractices and increasing proliferation of criminals within the jail premises which requires the need to isolate them from each other and keep them under strict vigil. This can only be made possible if there are alternative accommodation possibilities and harsher laws.