Sanjoy Ray

Convicts serving jail terms to run pumps

GUWAHATI, Feb 23: How about a jailed convict dispensing fuel to your vehicle? The idea may appear odd but that is what the prisons department is planning to introduce in Assam. Taking a leaf out of Telangana’s book, the Assam government is planning to set up open-air fuel depots which would be run entirely by convicts serving jail terms in prisons.

This would be for the first time that such an initiative would be undertaken in the entire Eastern India.

“Those who show good behaviour over a period of time would be preferred for the job. The step is basically aimed at making prisons and its inmates financially self-reliant,” said sources in the prisons department.

“Of course, the nature of crime he or she had committed would be considered as well. But, as a whole, those who conduct themselves well over a period of time would make the cut. The whole idea is to bring them on the path of reformation so that they do not feel left out and are also able to support their family members back home,” sources said.

Sources also told The Assam Tribune that the proposal is to set up two such oil depots which would be owned by the prisons department. As part of the pilot project, one of the two depots is likely to be set up in Dibrugarh. The other one is likely to be set up in Guwahati or any of the adjoining districts.

“Prisons department in Telangana owns nearly 10 petrol depots, which has made them self-sufficient. If we can replicate the same, it would work wonders for us,” the sources opined, adding that Kerala too has successfully implemented similar initiatives.

Further, to boost income of prisoners, the department has decided to make the inmates beneficiary of profits made from making various products, including handicrafts and other artifacts. Under the Srijan scheme, prisoners will be entitled to 30 per cent profit share for products made by them.

“While 30 per cent of the profit would be credited to the bank account of the prisoner concerned, 40 per cent would go to the State’s exchequer. The remaining 30 per cent would be kept as a revolving fund that would be utilized for purchasing the raw materials,” the sources said.

“The 30 per cent profit share would be in addition to the wages they receive,” the sources said, adding that male convicts are entitled to a daily wage of Rs 75 (skilled ones), while the unskilled category gets Rs 55 per day. Similarly, female convicts are entitled to Rs 100 each per day in skilled category and Rs 80 in unskilled category.