KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Finance has sanctioned Rs 50 million to the Department of Prison Management through the Ministry of Home Affairs for the repair and reconstruction of damaged or destroyed physical infrastructure of prisons across the country.
As many as 54 prison buildings in the Kathmandu Valley and other districts were either destroyed or damaged by the April 25 earthquake and its subsequent aftershocks.
Jagannath Dewal Prison, Kathmandu; Nakhkhu Jail, Lalitpur; Sindhupalchowk District Prison; Rasuwa District Prison; Rautahat District Prison; Gorkha District Prison; Dhading District Prison and Bhojpur District Prison are among the most-affected prisons and are unsafe for accommodating the jailbirds doing time in various charges.
Sixteen jailbirds, all males, were killed and 93 were injured after the mainshock reduced the Jagannath Dewal Prison to rubble.
More than 10,000 jailbirds have been kept in temporary shelters since then. Himnath Dawadi, Director General, Department of Prison Management, informed that the Ministry of Finance had recently released Rs 50 million as part of government’s immediate response to post-disaster situation for repair and reconstruction of the damaged or destroyed prison infrastructure. “Repair and rebuilding process has already started ensure that the jailbirds should not live in constant fear,” he said.
According to Dawadi, the estimated loss to the prison infrastructure due to the earthquake is more than Rs 160.22 million.
According to the DoPM, the government is moving ahead with the process of adopting the ‘open prison policy’ to ease the pressure of jailbirds in the already crowded prisons and to turn the prisons into correction centres as per the Prison Act, 1963.
“We have already acquired a plot of land, around 535 ropanis, in Banke for the construction of open prison with the capacity of over 5,000 persons,” Dawadi informed.
The country has 74 prisons in 72 of 75 districts. Bhaktapur, Bara and Dhanusha do not have any prison while Kathmandu and Dang have two prisons each.
The prisons with a total capacity of 10,434 persons are crammed with more than 16,000 jailbirds.