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Puducherry Central Jail shows the way – prisoners are offered farming, animal husbandry and arts to reform

Produce harvested by the inmates of Puducherry Central Jail

Prisons should enable criminals to reform and become better citizens and precisely this is being done at the Central Prison, Kalapet, Puducherry.

Inmates are engaged in varied activities, including raising different crops and rearing animals and birds, making them productive, busy and trained in skills that will help them after their release.

Nearly three acres of land has been planted with crops, vegetables and flowers and the whole area has taken a green colour. It is now yielding chillies, ladies’ finger, brinjal, tomatoes, radish, paddy, drumstick, watermelons, ginger, turmeric, apples, oranges, banana, pineapple, papaya, guava, cauliflower, sunflower, pumpkin, and a variety of spinach.

This is not all, as the prisoners are rearing rabbits, hens, ducks, guineas, and cows too.

To make inmates relax and become calm, yoga and meditation classes are held while fine arts like painting, sculpture and dancing are taught. They are also made to participate in sports.

Sharing details about the farming and animals reared, V. Vettriselvam, an expert in natural farming who helps the inmates and jail authorities told The Hindu: “We have adopted natural farming, as the varieties of plants we raise grow in companion and act as a nutrient for the soil. The soil gets enriched and, in a few months, the entire area will look like a thick vegetation area. People ask: why guineas? Each of the animals we have selected helps us raise the crops. For example, the guineas are the best managers of pests and small rats.”

A recent harvest of the produce yielded 300 kilograms of fruits, vegetables and also flowers.

The project is financially beneficial as cultivation of 10,000 pineapples is expected to fetch Rs.2 lakhs. According to Mr. Vettriselvam, the entire produce will raise Rs.10 to 15 lakhs.

Significantly these activities have started making a change among the inmates. One prisoner, a fisherman, is keen to take up farming in one acre of land belonging to his family. He said it was a joy to see the plants grow.

Initially the Sri Aurobindo Society had provided Rs.7 lakhs for this initiative and now that it is paying dividends, it is expected that agricultural and dairy farming activities will be expanded in 20 acres, with assistance from the Society.