THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Prisons Department will break even within a few years if things go their way. Various earning activities of the Department from farming to chappati making is expected to help the department earn a good revenue, hope the prison authorities.
The hope is not without reason. The revenue generated by the Department has risen from Rs 2.18 crore in 2009-2010 to Rs 2.68 crore in 2010-11. It is expected to cross Rs 3.5 crore by March this year and most likely to become a whopping Rs 5 crore by the end of this year.
It has only been four years since the figure touched the crore mark which had stood at lakhs for decades. In the Rs 3.5 crore, around Rs 20 lakh was from the sale of chappatis from Viyyur and Poojappura Central Prisons.
The sale of vegetables contributed Rs 30 lakh which is expected to double by the end of this year. The expected return, from the cultivated medicinal plants in Cheemeni and Nettukaltheri open prisons, which would start yielding within two years, is around Rs 10 crore.
50,000 plantain saplings were planted in Nettukaltheri and 7,000 in Central Prison Poojappura, which would yield by September this year and is likely to fetch a revenue of Rs 1.5 crore.
The Prisons Department is also planning to start a unit to make chips to generate a greater revenue from plantain farming.
The 32,000 rubber saplings planted in 150 acres of Nettukaltheri open prison that would start yielding within seven years is also expected to boost the revenue of the Prisons Department.
The sale of laterite stone from Cheemeni open prison and the flower culture for Sree Padmanabha and Vadakkumnatha temples also earned the Department a few lakhs.
The making and sale of Christmas stars from Poojappura Central Prison, which was a first-of-its-kind in any prison, helped earn Rs 20,000.
By assigning prison inmates to PWD work inside prisons, the Department earned a considerable amount that way too. The sale of chicken and vegetable curries from Central Prison Poojappura and animal husbandry which is to start soon here, is also likely to generate a considerable revenue.
Apart from this, achieving self-sufficiency in vegetables and fish cultivation could considerably reduce the expenditure of prisons. Recently, Central Prison Poojappura used ‘African Mushy’ cultivated inside the prison to make fish curry for the inmates which deducted almost Rs. 20,000 from a day’s expenditure.
“The use of fish and vegetables cultivated on the prison premises for making food for inmates could reduce the day-to-day expenditure of prisons,” said ADGP prisons Alexander Jacob.
However he is also concerned about the increasing expenditure. The expenditure for Prison Department for the financial year 2009-10 was Rs 36 crore which rose to 45 crore in 2010-11.
Food inflation was the major reason for the sky-rocketing prison expenditure which still remains in the way for the Prisons Department’s attempt to attain the break even.
Another challenge is the attitude of the officers. “The system has to continue as it is now to attain our goal. The joining or retirement of a jailor or superintendent should not interrupt the flow,” said Alexander Jacob.