ITAHARI, Dec 21: Local residents living nearby Eastern Regional Jail (ERJ), Jhumka often stage protests venting their ire against the polluted water and waste released from the jail. Two weeks ago, locals had staged demonstrations urging the concerned authorities for proper management of garbage and sewage.
According to the locals, contaminated water mixed with acid has been adversely affecting their crops and arable land. Despite receiving so much of criticism, the jail administration has not been able to find a solution to this longstanding problem. The water used by the inmates for cooking, bathing and washing clothes directly flows to the fields of the locals. Soapy water mixed with acid not just reduces the production but also damages the fertility of land.
The jail administration says it has time and again sent letters to the jail management department urging to find a solution to this problem but has not received any feedback. "A year ago, Annapurna Das, former administrator of the ERJ had proposed a Rs 20 million plan but the project headed nowhere," said Jailer Ganesh Adhikari. Two days ago, the administration sent another letter to the department seeking a solution, informed Adhikari.
As suggested by the engineers of the municipality, it will be convenient to build a pond outside the jail to stop the polluted water from entering the fields of the locals. Such pond is expected to cost approximately Rs 2 million while some more money will be required for the management of solid waste. "This problem will be solved only if we buy a 4 -attha land outside the prison to construct a pond," said Adhikari.
He further informed that the solid waste will be managed by the municipality as per the agreement. ERJ of Jhumka has earned a reputation of one of the well facilitated prisons of the country. However, lack of proper waste management has not only affected the health of the inmates but has also dampened its image to some extent. Every year, government sanctions budget of Rs70 millions for the food, allowance and other expenses of the prison and the inmates. Currently, as many as 1,425 inmates are sheltering in Jhumka prison.
Similalrly, the District Jail of Ilam is also facing similar problem. Five years ago, the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction constructed this jail with an investment of Rs 80 million. However, the inmates and security personnel of the jail are obliged to rely on pond water for cleaning, washing and cooking. According to branch officer Bhakta Bahadur Khadka, the jail administration is worried about the health of jailbirds due to the poor management of waste. Currently, as many as 250 inmates are sheltering in the district jail.
Not just these two jails but the jails of Saptari and Jhapa are also engulfed with similar problems. As the squatters have encroached upon the land of Sapatari jail, there is no place for sewage outlet. On the other hand, the prison of Jhapa is very congested and there is no proper place for waste disposal. As a result, the water and waste released from the prison directly reaches the fields of the locals.