Prisons make Rs 60 crore off prisoners, but wage delayed

CHENNAI: Dearth of funds and a lackadaisical approach by prison department officials continue to haunt several hundreds of prisoners working in prison industries in the state. They have been waiting for their wages for nearly six months.

Sources in the prison department said that the prisoners engaged in the bootmaking unit in for Men have not received their wages since July. The scenario is no better in other central prisons, although the industries have generated revenue of more than 60 crore in 2016-2017, and aim to generate revenue of 100 crore in the present fiscal year.

Authorities said that 3,700 life and term convicts are undergoing imprisonment in central prisons in the state. Of them, 50% have been engaged in the prison industries as part of the rehabilitation measures. The wages are 200 for skilled, 180 for semi-skilled and 160 for unskilled prisoners.

After deduction of 50% and 20% of their wage towards maintenance and victims? compensation fund, the remaining amount would be credited to the prisoners? cash deposit. They can send the money to their family or withdraw when going on parole.

The prisoners engaged in shoemaking unit in Vellore, which generated a revenue of over 14.50 crore in the last two fiscal years, have been paid as their productivity. They were supposed to be paid 6,000 to 8,000 each a month. ?Several prisoners have been sending their wages to their families or take the money when they go on parole to meet their families. Though many have availed parole for the Pongal festival, they are worried to go with empty hands. The wages, around 40,000 for each prisoner, are pending for the last six months,? said an official on condition of anonymity. Office superintendent, manager and accountant of the prison are on leave for more than three months. Hence, the proposal to avail fund towards the wage is stuck in the administrative office, sources said.

A senior official in the department said that prisoners engaged in other industries have also not received their wages due to lack of fund. ?We pay the wage periodically as per the availability of fund. There will be some delay, but surely they will get their wages. Sometimes, it takes three to four months to pay the wage,? said the official. The prisoners in Trichy and have also been facing wage problems. ?The wage issue will be sorted out soon,? said a senior official in the department.

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