THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a first for the state, the Nettukaltheri open prison has launched a culinary programme to help inmates make a career in the food industry. The project — aided by the Family Planning Association of India, an NGO — is meant to provide cooking lessons to interested prisoners so they can earn a living as chefs during parole period or after being released from prison. The programme was inaugurated recently with celebrity chef Suresh Pillai giving lessons to over 50 inmates.
Superintendent B Remeshkumar said the inmates will be given hands-on training in preparing staple Kerala recipes, like porotta and appam, as well as Chinese dishes. The training programme will run for a week and those who perform well will be provided certificates issued by industry leaders.
The officer said the NGO had brought up the idea, and the prisons department supported it as it could provide financial stability to the inmates. “We have seen inmates on parole often complaining about financial difficulties. They request us to release the meagre amounts they earn as daily wages for their work in prison,” Remeshkumar said.
The maximum daily income possible for an inmate is Rs 230, with which they have to meet their small expenses in the prison, he said. “Whatever is left is sent home. While on parole, they find the going tough. Those released after serving their terms also live a tough life. Most of them felt they have become a burden on their families. That’s a sad scenario, which we wanted to avoid.”
An experienced chef can earn a minimum of Rs 1,500 daily, and for an inmate released from jail, that will be of great help, Remeshkumar said. “In open prisons, inmates are entitled to 15 days’ parole after every two and a half months. They get five such paroles a year. If they want, they can work in hotels or wayside eateries and make some money,” he said.