Chennai: The nation’s first retail fuel outlet run by women convicts who are still serving their prison sentences was inaugurated here on Friday by Tamil Nadu Minister for Law and Prisons S Regupathy. Named Freedom Filling Station, it is located on Ambattur Road here at Puzhal, abutting the Special Prison for Women (SPW-Puzhal). It will go a long way in reforming and rehabilitating the convicts, the Tamil Nadu prison department said.
“For the first time in India, a petrol retail outlet will be fully managed by convicted women prisoners. About 30 female prisoners will be employed at this petrol retail outlet. The prisoners will get Rs 6,000 each as monthly salary,” an official release said.
DGP in charge of Prisons and Correctional Services Amaraesh Pujari said the newly opened petrol bunk run by women convicts is a first in India and will be run by the women convicts of SPW-Puzhal prison. It will help them in their reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration with society, he said.
It provides the women prison inmates an opportunity to learn new skills and gain work experience, which can help them find employment after their release. Also, it will give them a sense of responsibility, dignity, and self-worth, which can boost their confidence and morale. They can earn some income (up to Rs 10,000 per month) which they can use to support their families or save for their future, he said.
The initiative will open up exposure to the outside world and interaction with customers and the larger society as well, which in turn can help improve their social skills and also reduce isolation. The plan will encourage prison inmates to behave well and follow rules, as they have to meet “certain criteria and behavioral yardsticks” to be eligible for the job, he pointed out.
R Kanagaraj, DIG Prisons (Head Quarters); A Murugesan, DIG Prisons, Chennai Range; and V C Asokan, Executive Director & State Head, Tamil Nadu & Puducherry, IOCL took part. The prison department has already been running a ‘Prison Bazaar’ as part of its reform and rehabilitation initiatives.
Items made by prisoners, including shoes, raincoats, readymade garments, handicrafts, notebooks, compost manure, bakery products, and vegetables cultivated by them are sold through the Prison Bazaar under the brand name Freedom. The government had already accorded sanction for setting up five petrol retail outlets on the premises of Puzhal, Vellore, Coimbatore, and Palayamkottai jails and the Borstal School in Pudukkottai.
These retail outlets, run by the Tamil Nadu Prison Department in association with Indian Oil Corporation, are functioning well under the brand name Freedom Filling Station. The state government in an order dated May 2, 2022 sanctioned setting up of six more petroleum retail outlets on the outer premises of central prisons including the Puzhal Central Prison on Ambattur Road here, as well as in Coimbatore, Tiruchirappalli (two outlets), Madurai and Salem. (PTI)