Shillong, Jan 14: The Home (Jails) department will soon come up with a master-plan for setting up a Central jail in the state. “We are setting up a Central jail in 25 acres of land allotted to us in the New Shillong Township. Shortly we will be coming out with a master plan on this,” Inspector General of Prisons, M. Kharkrang, informed on Friday.
Unlike other states, Meghalaya is yet to have its own central jail where only the convicts are kept.
Kharkrang also admitted that the whole idea of constructing a Central jail is to segregate the convicts from the Under Trial Prisoners (UTPs).
It is also part of a long term measure to ease the overcrowding faced by different district jails across the state, he added.
When asked, Kharkrang said construction of the central jail will start only after the master plan is approved, adding that construction of that kind of infrastructure will take quite a long time.
“However, we hope that it will come up shortly. The government has given us 25 acres of land that itself indicates that it is very keen in setting up this central jail,” he said.
Kharkrang, further, informed that the department had also visited good central jails outside along with PWD’s chief architect.
“We are looking at the good practices and the good things that they have over there,” he said.
Meghalaya has five district jails – Shillong, Williamnagar, Jowai, Tura and Nongpoh – and almost all of them face the problem of overcrowding.
Shillong district jail is now housing over 480 inmates against its intake capacity of 155.
CAG red flags overcrowding of jails
In its report on the performance audit of management of prisons, the CAG had recommended the government to consider setting up jails in all districts and accelerate the trials of UTPs in a time bound manner.
The report had stated that overcrowding of inmates in four out of five district jails in the state was due to lodging the convicts and under trial prisoners together and prolonged detention of people without trial, especially in Shillong and Jowai district jails. Young offenders were housed along with adult offenders.
The CAG had also stated that the delay in construction of new jails has forced the inmates of the existing jails to live in inhuman conditions without safe drinking water and adequate number of toilets.
Several inmates were forced to sleep underneath the already occupied sleeping berths.