GOLAGHAT, April 29 - A group of artisans are busy making handicraft items like lamp-shades, lamp-holders, tea-boxes, murahs, and trays from bamboo and cane to meet the deadline of orders placed by buyers.
However, these artisans are not employees of any private firm, but are people trying to turn over a new leaf in their lives. They are all male convicts serving prison terms at the Golaghat District Jail at Bogorijung.
The convicts recently completed a �big assignment� for the Golaghat police department, and the orders have gone up in recent times as the products are in high demand.
A false ceiling made from bamboo on a ply-board base � measuring 1,040 square feet � for the police inspection bungalow at Kohora in Kaziranga, has been completed, Superintendent of Golaghat District Jail Dilip Saikia told The Assam Tribune.
Saikia said this order will add up to the jail�s income from sale of handicraft this year.
The rate for the ceiling was Rs 110 per square feet, and the money earned by the jail from selling items made by the convicts is deposited in the government coffers through the district treasury office.
The jail superintendent said another order for 150 tea boxes has been given by the court manager of the Golaghat District and Sessions Judge. The boxes will reportedly be used to present tea to delegates of a judicial conference to be held in Guwahati next month under the aegis of the Gauhati High Court.
Saikia said many tea gardens are now placing orders for tea boxes to sell premium quality tea by packaging it in decorative boxes made by the convicts.
Other items like lamp-shades and trays too are in demand. In the past three years, the annual income of the jail from bamboo and cane items has been over Rs 70,000.
A retail outlet has now been opened in front of the jail for local customers.
The jail superintendent said that though the training centre was opened in 2006, the demand for the products has gone up in the recent past.
The convicts are paid daily wages as per government rates � Rs 75 for skilled and Rs 55 for unskilled workers.
Aditya Kumar Borthakur, the instructor at the jail handicraft training centre, said the convicts liked their work, and some of them have a preliminary idea about the process of making handicraft items.
He said the inmates themselves suggest designs for the items. Borthakur said the inmates make traditional Assamese japis too.
Faroque Haque, Jailor of Golaghat District Jail, said the prison also has several vegetable gardens and nearly one-third of the annual requirement of vegetables in the jail kitchen is from the jail�s own gardens.
He said the jail also has a weaving unit for women inmates in a separate enclosure. The cloth woven by the women is later stitched by the men into various pieces of clothing.