Told to surrender BMC schools, Mumbai jail authorities hunt for new quarantine facilities for new inmates

Jails across Mumbai Metropolitan Region would now have to look for alternate arrangements to quarantine new inmates as authorities have asked them to surrender the municipal schools which were being utilised for the purpose since the Covid-19 pandemic began last year.

With schools reopening, Mumbai City collector Rajiv Nivatkar has asked officials at the Arthur Road Jail and Byculla Jail to surrender the school at Byculla S Bridge and Patanwala School back to the civic body. Similarly, Thane collector Rajesh Narvekar has told the Kalyan Jail authorities to surrender the premises of Don Bosco School.

Authorities were using these premises to quarantine new inmates for seven days before moving them to the jails.

Nivatkar said, “The schools are reopening now. We had taken (possession of) the BMC school at Byculla S bridge and another one at Patanwala Marg from the civic body under the Disaster Management Act. Now that the schools are starting again, we need to give these premises back to the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation). We have asked the BMC to give us alternate space for a temporary jail.’’

Superintendent of Arthur Road Jail Nitin Vayachal said, “There are at least 300 inmates in the Municipal School at S bridge school. We are left with no option but to give up the school. Whenever a new inmate was to be admitted, we used to keep them on the school campus for a week to prevent outbreak of Covid-19 inside the jail.”

Byculla jail superintendent Yashwant Phad said, “We have 20 inmates at S bridge School and two at Patanwala School. We will go in search of another place soon.’’

A senior officer with the jails department said that they were looking for another place in Mumbai which had strong walls, windows with strong grilles, and was situated at a place away from residential complexes.

Raigad collector Mahendra Kalyankar said Taloja Jail authorities had already told him that they wanted to return the Namdar Gokhale School in Panvel, which was given to the prison as a separation facility.