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West Bengal prison inmates are giving protection to police, jail staff — by making masks, PPEs

In two months, inmates across 12 correctional facilities have stitched over 1 lakh masks and more than 1,000 PPE kits.

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Kolkata: Inmates across 12 correctional facilities in West Bengal have stitched around 1.21 lakh masks and more than 1,500 full PPE kits in the past two months. While this in itself is not new as inmates in several prisons across the country have been making masks and PPEs for distribution, in West Bengal, the case is slightly different.

These prisoners have been producing protective kits for those who have been the reason for their imprisonment and those who ensure their incarceration — the police and prison staff.

Pre-Covid, the manufacturing units in the correctional homes used to make products including food and stationery. The inmates were also part of cultural outfits like theatre troupes and artisans’ organisations. However, the correctional services authorities have temporarily discontinued these vocational and cultural programmes in view of the possible health hazards posed by the novel coronavirus.

But that didn’t mean the jail inmates were idle. Senior officials motivated them to something unique. They were encouraged to stitch masks and protective kits for the police force, who are at the frontline of the battle against the virus. And this protective gear are also distributed among the prison staff and officials.

“We have taken all possible measures to decongest the correctional homes and isolate the infected persons. Complying with all social distancing rules and Covid protocol, we motivated the inmates to stitch masks and PPEs, “ Peeyush Pandey, ADG of the state’s correctional services, told The Print.

Masks are being tailored in 12 central and district correctional homes at a total production capacity of 3,000 per day, and are used by the inmates and staff of different correctional homes throughout the state. Around 80,000 masks have been stitched for internal use, while more than 4,0000 were supplied to West Bengal police and Kolkata Police force. In total, the prisoners have made approximately 1,21,000 face masks so far.

Production of PPE kits has also been initiated in Berhampore Central Correctional Home. The kits are prepared in keeping with the standard set by the state’s MSME Department. Kits are sent to Tantuja (a state-owned handloom cooperative) for quality approval before being supplied to others. As of now, 1,500 PPE kits have been made for prison staff and more are in the pipeline for the police force, said a senior official of West Bengal Correctional Services.

Also read: Varavara Rao, Sharjeel are not isolated Covid cases as jails become the new hotspots


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