VELLORE: If all goes well, a group of inmates at Vellore Central Jail would be offered a special privilege — the task of making shoes for army men.
The jail administration here is optimistic about inking a deal with the Indian Army for entering into a largescale supply of shoes.
The jail authorities said the State government has sanctioned the proposal in principle to set up four shoe manufacturing units within the jail premises.
Speaking to Express, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Prisons) for Vellore Range V H Mohammed Haneefa said that a few samples of shoes manufactured by a group of inmates have been sent to the army headquarters.
“A good number of policemen in Tamil Nadu are wearing shoes manufactured by the inmates here. We are expecting big orders from the army, something around three lakh shoes a year,” the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Prisons) said.
A micro-unit with 80 workers already operating in the prison manufactures 150 shoes a month.
The unit began its functioning in 2014.
The initiative, which emphasises hands-on training for the inmates, aims to impart shoe-making skills to at least 1,000 a year.
A team of experts from the Footwear Institute in Chennai will also be called in to provide sufficient inputs to polish skills.
“The shoes made here will be of highest standards, in fact matching the best in the industry,” the DIG added.
The Tamil Nadu government is expected to sanction `1 crore soon towards setting up the shoe-making units.
Away from shoe-making, the Vellore prison administration is also in talks with tannery industry leaders of Vellore to employ some inmates in their units.
“We are discussing the plan with industry representatives. It will serve as an avenue for growth to inmates who have good technical skills,” the DIG said.
As of now, Central jail inmates run an open-air restaurant apart from cultivating vegetables in their garden.