Hindustan Times (Lucknow)

Tea cost for Tihar undertrial­s jumps 500%

- Prawesh Lama prawesh.lama@hindustant­imes.com

NEW DELHI: Tihar Jail authoritie­s are facing a curious issue these days — how to reduce the tea bill for undertrial­s that’s spiked 500% since 2008-09.

The jail pays for tea served to undertrial­s held in lock-ups at the six Delhi courts while they await their hearing.

According to official records, the quantity of tea served per cup has remained at 200ml since 2008-09. The average number of cups served daily when courts are in session is 1,000 — unchanged all these years too.

Even the number of prisoners (convicts and undertrial­s) in Tihar has risen marginally since 2008, when the jail had 11,553 prisoners, as compared to 13,552 in 2013. But the tea bill has registered a massive jump. From just under ` 5 lakh in 2008-09, Tihar authoritie­s have been presented with a bill of ` 29.05 lakh this year, a ` 6-lakh leap from last year. And this isn’t fancy Darjeeling tea that’s being served.

The escalating cost of tea has prompted Tihar authoritie­s to look at ways to cut this expense.

A senior jail official said authoritie­s were working to cut expenditur­e without compromisi­ng on the quality or quantity of tea, a basic need of undertrial­s awaiting their hearings.

During a meeting held at the prison headquarte­rs recently, jail superinten­dents were advised to push for more videoconfe­rencing facilities and court hearing within prison premises to ensure a significan­t drop in the expenditur­e of money and manpower.

Speaking to HT, DIG (prisons) Mukesh Prasad said there were no loopholes in the system and that vendors were invited through an open system of e- tendering. “We decided to use paper cups so that we could save money. These paper cups are cheaper and better. The price of milk, sugar and transporta­tion has increased over the years. This is the reason why the cost has gone up in all these years. Because there is a transparen­t system in place, whenever the bid is done it is done in front of everyone concerned and the prison officials.”

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