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India’s biggest plant nursery in jail takes root in Telangana



India’s biggest prison nursery sprawling over 8 acres of land at the Warangal Central Prison in Telangana is contributing in its own way to a greener planet as over four dozen or so inmates toil diligently every day to raise hundreds of plant saplings of different species.

The 40-50 inmates of the open-air jail who work at the nursery have raised around 14 lakh saplings of 60 varieties during the past one year, a senior jail official said.

The nursery contributed to ‘Haritha Haaram’, a state government flagship programme to increase the green cover in Telengana, providing 6.5 lakh saplings during the 5th phase of the programme last year.

The prison is already known for many innovative initiatives like operating petrol pumps, an ayurvedic wellness centre and, more recently, the manufacture of face masks to provide employment to its inmates.

Jail Superintendent N  Murali Babu said  over phone that no other jail in the country has such a large nursery. “Usually nurseries are set up on the city outskirts but we have this nursery within the jail premises in the heart of the town,” he said.

He recalled that it was during a meeting called by Warangal Urban District Collector over ‘Haritha Haaram’ last year that he offered to develop the nursery in the prison premises.

“I requested him to give us an opportunity as the jail has vast land at its disposal and also the requisite manpower for raising a plant nursery. Prashant Jeevan Patil, who was then the Collector, accepted the proposal,” he said.

Every jail inmate who works in the nursery is paid Rs 100 per day. “They do all the work like planting of seedlings, soil-mixing and watering,” he said.

The nursery has 60 varieties of saplings, including fruit- and flower-bearing trees and plants, crotons, wild plants, avenue and medicinal plants.

The Kakatiya Urban Development Authority (KUDA) last year purchased 6.5 lakh saplings from the prison nursery at the rate of Rs 5 per sapling. It currently has 7.5 lakh saplings and will be providing them for the ‘Haritha Haaram’ programme, whose 6th phase was launched on Thursday.

Set up in 1886, the jail is spread over 65 acres of land, including closed prison area and quarters. The centre also provides training to jail inmates in ‘Panchakarma’ ayurvedic treatment.

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