It is a story, unparalleled - an initiative from a prison employing inmates takes to the market and gains the goodwill of the public.
Chapati-making and selling from the Central Prison, Poojappura, tells the story of an initiative, the brainchild of Director General of Police (Prisons) Alexander Jacob, which broke all conventional perception about prisons and those behind bars. As the launching of chapati-making on a commercial basis completes one year on November 28, the culinary venture with a difference is now a business worth Rs 3.25 crore.
“Now, the turnover of chapati-making has touched Rs 3.25 crore,” said superintendent of Central Prison B Pradeep.
While at the beginning, the number of chapatis made per day was 14,000 and had only one outlet in front of the prison, gradually it rose. Now with two more outlets, one at Women’s Prison, Attakulangara, and the other at Government Ayurveda College, and with four mobile outlets, the demand increased to 50,000 and more per day, while 4,500 chicken and 2,500 vegetable curries are being made.
There is a demand for 10,000 chapatis from Sree Padmanabha Temple and for around 8,000 from police camp. While at the beginning there was only one chapati-making machine, now the increased demand has made it three. “As the demand goes up, from next week onwards, 60,000 chapatis will be made,” said the prison superintendent.
A chapati for just Rs 2, that too without compromising on quality, was a solace for the common man and public demand made the venture a great success. A packet of five chapatis for Rs 10 was something the market welcomed with enthusiasm as no one else is providing an eatable at such a low price. With the introduction of chicken and vegetable curries last December, the food from the prison became a huge hit. A plate of five chapatis and chicken curry costs only Rs 25, whereas a plate of vegetable curry with chapatis is priced at Rs 20.
At present, as many as 200 inmates are working in the chapati and curry-making unit in three shifts.
With the first step a huge success, the prison authorities expanded the programme to Viyyur and Kannur Central Prisons and to District Jail, Kozhikode.