ROURKELA: Thirty four years after its inception, the overcrowded observation and special home of the Women and Child Development (WCD) department on the Rourkela Special Jail campus continues to face a myriad of problems.
On August 30, five juveniles had escaped from the observation home with meticulous planning after evading manual and electronic security.
A few months back, four others had also fled the home. Similarly in 2008, three juveniles facing charges of rape, theft and rioting had taken the superintendent of the observation home captive at knife point in a failed bid to escape.
The observation home houses 130 inmates against its capacity of 60. Security of the 130 inmates is looked after by five guards and one home guard. In a single shift of eight hours, two guards watch over the inmates against the requirement of a minimum of six guards.
Besides, the observation home is battling with acute space shortage. Both under-trial and convicted juveniles are crammed together, thereby exposing first-time offenders to hardened criminals.
The institution neither has a regular teacher nor a physical education trainer (PET) even as scarcity of funds and space makes extra-curricular, correctional and recreational activities impossible for the inmates.
Superintendent of the observation home HS Mishra admitted of the problems and said the facility will soon be shifted to its permanent campus at Pradhanpali. The new building is spacious and more secured, he added.
Sources said work on the new campus, the foundation stone of which was laid by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in February 2011, has been delayed inordinately amid cost overrun.
Executive engineer, Public Works Department DC Behera said work is going on in full swing and a target has been set to hand over the campus to the authorities concerned on September 25. He attributed the delay to phased arrival of funds.
The observation home was set up in 1986 to cater to nine districts. The new campus is coming up over three acre of land at a cost of about Rs 5 crore.