Which prison is the biggest in India?

India is building the eco-prison

Prison Director B.K. Gupta has ambitious goals: He has discovered environmental protection and wants his 11,500 inmates to participate in the eco-craze. From now on he is converting his huge prison: To the first green prison in the world.

"We want to introduce international standards," explains Gupta. The director's hope: he could save one million euros annually through the energy transition. And - by the way - the living conditions for the prisoners could also improve.

Green revolution behind bars

The conditions in India's prisons have so far been catastrophic

The Tihar Central Jail is the size of a city: the area is 160 hectares, on ten blocks there are - inhabited by more than 11,000 prisoners. The jail was actually only built for a good 6,000 convicts - there is a lack of sanitary facilities and rooms everywhere. That, too, should change according to the ambitious plans of the director.

The green revolution behind bars begins in the kitchen: Until now, natural gas was used for cooking, but now four biogas plants near the prison kitchens are supposed to convert massive amounts of organic waste into energy. In addition, biomass gasifiers are to be used: the wood waste from the prison's own workshop could also be converted directly into energy.

Lots of biomass

Wood waste is to be turned into energy in small biomass power plants

Rainwater has been collected in jail for a long time. Because the demand is enormous: the prisoners use 30,000 liters of hot water every day. Treatment plants are now being built that turn wastewater into usable water: toilets, showers and gardens could be irrigated in this way. There is hot water with the help of solar energy.

Save water and electricity!

Water is a precious commodity in India

This should also significantly reduce electricity costs in the future: So far, the prison has paid more than 650,000 euros for this alone. Soon only energy-saving lamps will be burning in the whole prison. But the prisoners also get to feel their boss's new craze for savings: the electricity should be turned off in the morning between 7 and 9 a.m. and in the afternoon between 3 and 5 p.m. "You don't need electricity during that time," says Gupta. "You're out there meditating or doing yoga." In return, the prison director has promised to run fans around the clock during the summer.

Sun salutation and laughter exercise

Laughter therapy for prisoners

The eco-conversion will cost 141,000 euros - half of which will be taken over by the Indian government. This seems increasingly to advocate better design of prisons. Improvements are being made in other prisons as well. In addition, the prisoners are to be given positive employment: yoga, literature and laughing courses are offered.

Convicts attending yoga classes have even now been offered the prospect of early release. The exercises strengthened self-control and decreased aggressiveness, the authorities said. The deal is simple: for three months of sun salutation, breathing exercises and stretching, a two-week penalty will be waived in the future. 400 prisoners have already registered for an initial pilot project. It remains to be seen whether they are all actually looking for relaxation - or just want to get out of jail.

Author: Anna Kuhn-Osius (afp / ap)

Editor: Esther Broders