New Delhi, May 6 (PTI) A High Powered Committee (HPC) set up on orders of the Supreme Court to decongest prisons and prevent spread of COVID-19 among inmates has asked the Delhi government to ensure that all the prisoners and staff in all the jails in the national capital are vaccinated at the earliest.
The committee, headed by Justice Vipin Sanghi, asked the Delhi government to set up vaccination centres in all jails in the city.
The decision was taken by the HPC after it was informed that jail staff have been declared as front line workers and 85 per cent of them have already been vaccinated.
It was also told by the prison authority that 546 inmates too have been vaccinated.
The committee, in its meeting held on May 4, also suggested other measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic in the jails.
It said that the jail staff and inmates should be provided with double masking -- one surgical mask and one cloth mask -- as the new variant of COVID-19 was more virulent.
Director General (Prisons) assured that the masks shall be provided to all jail staff and jail inmates and it shall be ensured that all of them use double masking at all times.
The committee also resolved that new entrants should be kept in 'isolation cells' so as to prevent their intermingling with other inmates who are already inside the jail.
In this regard, the Delhi government informed the HPC that the police quarters in the Police Housing Complex adjoining Mandoli Jail here has been declared as a temporary jail in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
DG (Prisons) informed the committee of the 12 towers at the complex, two have been reserved for accommodating outside security forces, so that their intermingling with jail staff is minimized and the rest are fully functional as a temporary jail where new entrants are being kept, so the issue of creating isolation cells stands resolved to a considerable extent.
'As such, the chances of escape of inmates from the Temporary Jails have also been checked and necessary precautions have been taken,' the minutes of the meeting said.
'It is made clear that fresh male inmates who are between 18 to 21 years of age and fresh women inmates shall continue to be kept in separate isolation cells at Jail No.5 and 6 respectively at Tihar and Jail No.16 Mandoli, in terms of the earlier resolution (of HPC),' it added.
DG (Prisons) also told the HPC that a multi-pronged approach has been adopted to tackle the threat of COVID-19 by discontinuing all visits of outside agencies, including NGOs, restriction of movements of inmates outside the wards in jails, sanitization and disinfection of the lodgment areas of the inmates and residential complexes of staff, on regular basis and pre-screening all new inmates before lodging them in jail. PTI HMP RKS RKS