KOCHI: Ten lakh. That’s the number of masks that prison inmates in the state made in the past three months as part of an initiative of the Kerala Prisons and Correctional Services Department. The department had decided to start the production of masks in view of their shortage due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
“In the first two months of the lockdown, our mask manufacturing units were in full swing which helped us in preparing 10 lakh masks in three months. In the initial months, masks were on high demand and we used to produce around 13,000 masks per day. All the prisons in the state were producing single-use masks, reusable cotton single-layered and double-layered masks. In the three months, we also made 15,000 litres of sanitisers,” said S Santhosh, DIG of Prisons (Headquarters).
Now, with demand coming down and stocks piling up in each jail, the department has brought down the production of masks.“Production has been lowered by 40-50 per cent. We stopped making single-use masks altogether. In some jails, there are around 40,000 masks in stock. Once schools reopen, the demand for masks may rise and we will increase their production accordingly,” Santhosh said.Masks were supplied to health workers and sold through jail outlets in different districts. At present, double-layered and single-layered masks are being sold for `15 and `10 apiece, respectively, while 100ml of sanitisers cost `15.
Food sales pick up
The sale of prison food items, including chappati, biriyani and curries have started picking up after the lockdown restrictions were eased partially. “In June, we could achieve around 80 per cent of the sales figure that we had touched before the lockdown. During the lockdown, sale of food from outlets came down by 50 to 60 per cent.
Cafeterias of the department where people can sit and dine are still closed. However, parcel services at the outlets and mobile units are working in full swing. Online sales is also getting response in some districts these days,” said an official at one of the prisons.As part of Covid-19 preventive measure, several prisoners were released on bail or granted parole. Some of them have started returning to their respective jails after inter-district bus services resumed.