The government has also decided to appoint two counsellors in the state's nine central prisons to help mentally disturbed prisoners and has sanctioned funds for preparing a detailed project report for installing rooftop solar power panels at these prisons.
"Currently prisoners are shaved by barbers with a traditional knife which poses the risk of spreading contagious diseases. We want the prisoners to be safe from any such diseases. So it has been decided to provide two disposable razors every month to prisoners," J.K. Tripathy, additional director general of police/inspector general of prisons, told IANS.
He said tenders for procuring razors will soon be issued.
Queried about the risks involved, like the razor blades turning into sharp weapons, Tripathy said sufficient care will be taken to prevent such things and a proper account will be kept of the razors. "There will not be any loss of job for barbers because of this scheme," he added.
According to the government, most of the male convicts are sentenced for periods of more than a month. Further, the undertrial prisoners are normally kept in prisons for more than one month and hence, periodic shaving is necessary to maintain their personal hygiene.
The government has budgeted around Rs.43 lakhs for the project at Rs.336 per male prisoner per year. There are around 13,000 male prisoners in the state.
The government has also permitted the superintendents of the central prisons to engage the services of two qualified counsellors at an honorarium of Rs.15,000 per month each to help mentally disturbed prisoners.
Currently the prisons were using the services of counsellors provided by NGOs, which are not regular and don't ensure follow-ups.
On the other hand, dedicated and qualified counsellors can ensure regular follow-up of disturbed prisoners.
According to the government, 57 prisoners committed suicide between 2006 and 2012 in the central prisons.
The state government has also sanctioned Rs.5 lakhs to prepare a detailed project report on the viability of setting up rooftop solar power panels in the prisons and the Borstal School in Pudukottai.
The prisons department has estimated the cost of setting up the panels at Rs.35 crore in the 10 locations.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at v.jagannathan)
--IANS (Posted on 26-09-2013)