Chandigarh, March 4 | The Punjab Assembly on Wednesday passed a Bill to establish the Punjab Prisons Development Board to engage the prisoners in gainful economic activity with the objective of having a correctional impact on them.
The Punjab Prisons Development Board Bill of 2020 was passed with a voice vote.
A spokesperson for the government said this step would help in achieving the goal of reduction in crimes in prisons, while generating revenue by keeping the prisoners busy in various activities undertaken by the board.
The board would be chaired by the Chief Minister, with Jails Minister as Senior Vice Chairperson and Additional Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary and Secretary to the Department of Prisons as its Vice Chairperson.
The Punjab Prisons Department had mooted a proposal for establishment of the Punjab Development Board on the lines of Telangana, said the spokesperson.
Jails Minister Sukhjinder Randhawa informed the Assembly that one of the primary purposes of the board is to give a fillip to the prison industries and other commercial activities for generation of revenue.
The revenue thus generated would be spent on improving the correctional interventions towards welfare of prisoners and prison staff and enhancement of security infrastructure.
Punjab has 24 prisons, including nine central and six district, with a population of 23,500 inmates.
Last week, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report tabled in the Assembly said security in the state”s jails left much scope for improvement.
In three years till 2018, a total of 31 prisoners escaped since the majority of jails were facing shortage of staff ranging from 30 to 45 per cent, besides modern security equipment.
The CAG has also picked holes in the utilisation of funds in all the jails.
Ranging from 31 and 100 per cent, the funds meant for modernisation of jails could not be utilised between 2015 and 2018, it said.
In 2016, a jailbreak in Nabha jail led to the escape of four gangsters and two hardcore terrorists.