BANGALORE: Cell phone jammer systems worth `5 crore will be installed at Bangalore’s Parappana Agrahara Central Prisons by May-end. But they are making an entry into Karnataka’s biggest prison without being tested at the jail. Its makers at Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) say the systems are already cleared by the Special Protection Group (SPG), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Director (Security) of Cabinet Secretariat.
The Prisons Department, which placed the order says testing the jammers ahead of installation is an expensive affair. In the last seven years, attempts by Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) and a Russian firm to fix jammers at the jail had flopped. The Russian systems did jam the cells, but blocked mobile networks in a 5-km range outside the jail.
Express first encountered Additional Director General of Police K V Gagandeep on March 7. “The Cabinet Secretariat has given approval only for jammers made by BEL and ECIL. We were not satisfied with BEL’s jammers and were left with no option but to choose ECIL. We are going by the rule book and these jammers are operational in jails across India.”
Experts in jamming technology warn that conventional jammers which work 24x7 are health hazards.
“They emit electromagnetic radiation all the time posing danger to kidney. The state-of-the-art jammers are activated only when an inmate attempts to make a call or send an SMS,” they said. Gagandeep said he wasn’t aware of such hazards.
When asked why a demo was not done in the prison, Gagandeep said: “The jammers are expensive and we could not try them. We have not sanctioned the funds blindly. ECIL officials have done a survey of the prison ahead of installation.” When the Express contacted Gagandeep again on March 28, the department had already released 85 per cent of the money to ECIL.