State reiterates demand for quarantine centre for Arthur Road inmates

More than 170 inmates and 30 prison officials have tested positive for coronavirus.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread among the Arthur Road prison population, the Home Department on Monday once again wrote to the BMC asking for quarantine centres for inmates. It was the second time that the department had approached the municipality.

So far more than 170 inmates and 30 prison officials have tested positive. Among those in quarantine is the superintendent of the jail, Nitin Wainchal; his driver and bodyguard contracted the virus recently.

A senior Home Department officer said: “Arthur Road has nearly 2,600 inmates; the jail’s capacity is 804. The home minister has already announced a lockdown in the jail, which means that no one can come in or go out. Prior to the lockdown, nearly 450 inmates were shifted to Taloja Jail and another 650 were granted bail. Now we have asked the BMC to give us a quarantine centre.”

BMC additional commissioner Suresh Kakani has offered the department use of rehabilitation flats at Mahul and also a school in E Ward, which is close to Arthur Road, but security issues have so far prevented any move. The department has, meanwhile, asked for another spot.

Meanwhile, Arthur Road officials have asked for reinforcements from other prisons, as many of their staff are in quarantine.

They have also asked for better sanitation facilities at the staff quarters next to the jail.

Wainchal did not answer calls from this newspaper.

Officials at Taloja Jail, in Kharghar, are also complaining about congestion since prisoners from Arthur Road were moved there.

The jailor at Kharghar, K Kurlekar, said: “We have already got a school called Gokhale school in Kharghar East as a temporary jail. The local police and our staff are providing bandobast there.”

Taloja Jail has 2,700 inmates against a capacity of 2,124.

The inspector general of the jail, Deepak Panday, did not answer calls from this newspaper.

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