When the Government of India banned the circulation of old Rs.500 and 1000 notes in November 2016, numerous reports surfaced of sacks full of these old demonetised notes being burnt.
‘What use could these demonetised notes even have?’ one may wonder. But the inmates at Chennai’s Puzhal Central Prison have just the right answer!
Here’s how they decided to give these old currency notes a new lease of life and purpose.
These inmates serving life sentence are converting shredded demonetised notes into stationery for the state government and its agencies to use.
Stacks or bundles of shredded notes are first supplied by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to the inmates and prison officials.
The first step in the manual process of converting these shredded notes into government file pads is to turn the shredded notes into pulp. This pulp is then poured into a die-mould where it solidifies and turns into hard pads.
These hard pads are then cut out according to the required size. The inmates then paste coloured paper onto them for covers. Once the covers are pasted, the inmates tag the files with ‘urgent’ or ‘ordinary’ markings.
Apart from demonetised currency notes, many of the file pads also are also made using special hard pads from Khadi.
These file pads are used in government offices are therefore a variation of the semi-corrugated hard pad, with red cloth used to bind its corners.
Everyday a special team of 25-30 inmates manufacture over 1,000 such holders at Puzhal Central Jail.
They work for 25 days a month to make these file pads and earn a wage ranging between Rs 160 and Rs 200 for eight hours of work a day. The variation in payment depends on the skillset of each inmate.
The RBI has offered the Central Jail over 70 tons of shredded notes, of which over 1.5 tons have been used to make these file holders.
Even though other jails including Vellore, Salem and Madurai make such holders, Puzhal is the only prison to make the file pads out of old currency notes.
The prison authorities are considering a proposal to upgrade the handmade stationery unit into a semi-automated facility to enhance the productivity, reports The Hindustan Times.
Stationery making is not the only thing the Central jails in Tamil Nadu are popular for. Many of them also have set up units that produce shoe polish, soap and leather accessories.