If you have been craving tea, samosas or piping hot misal cooked on a wood-fired stove, Paithan open jail in Aurangabad could be an option. The first snacks centre in a prison in Maharashtra has been launched here, where prisoners will serve misal, tea and sugarcane juice to patrons.This will enable that the inmates are rehabilitated once they are back in the society. There are plans to eventually replicate this model in other correctional facilities across the state.”We have started a centre where sugarcane juice, tea, samosa and misal will be served with accompaniments like curd and papad. This will cater to motorists on the Ahmednagar- Sheogaon- Aurangabad road,” said Sachin Salve, superintendent, Paithan jail.”It will help prisoners set up their own business when they leave jail,” he added, stating that the venture launched last week would work on a no-profit, no-loss basis.Five prisoners will work from 7am to 5pm in the tea and misal point to be called Hotel Sagar Kinara after the Jaikwadi dam located in the vicinity. The inmates of open jails, which have less security and more space for convicts to work, are selected on the basis of good behaviour and the possibility of rehabilitation after their release. The Paithan open jail has around 255 inmates.Rajendra Dhamane, the deputy inspector general (prisons), Aurangabad, said this was the first such experiment in Maharashtra. “In some prisons, inmates prepare food for relatives who come to meet those interned there. But this is the first instance where outsiders will be served food (prepared by convicts),” he noted.”This will create employment avenues for prisoners and help integrate them in society after their release,” said Dhamane, adding that the hands-on experience will also acquaint them with marketing and soft skills.Bhushan Kumar Upadhyaya, additional director general of police (prisons), said revenues raised from the initiative would be channelled into the prisoners welfare fund. “We will decide on extending this elsewhere based on factors like the location (of the open prison),” he added.The machine used to crush sugarcane was made by prisoners from the left over wood in the jail. The Paithan open jail is spread over 500 acres has 15 acre of sugarcane plantations with plans to increase it to 100 acres. The vegetables, jowar, tur dal and soyabean grown in the jail are supplied to other prisons. The inmates from the open jail are also sent to Paithan’s Sant Dnyaneshwar Udyan for cleaning the premises.At the Kalamba jail in Kolhapur, lady inmates prepare laddoos to be served as prasad at the Ambabai (Mahalaxmi) temple in the town.Maharashtra has 54 prisons including nine central jails, 19 class-I district prisons, 23 class-II district prisons and three class-III district jails in addition to 172 sub-jails. This also includes 13 open prisons including two for women, one special prison at Ratnagiri, one women prison at Byculla, one open colony at Atpadi in Sangli, and one Borstal school at Nashik.
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