Convicts undergoing life imprisonment at the Puzhal Central Prison here are giving a fresh lease of life to demonetised currency, converting the shredded notes into customised stationery. A senior official said the stationery is being used in state government departments and their agencies. Everyday, a specially-trained team of about 25-30 convicts undergoing life imprisonment at the Puzhal Central Prison here make stationery called “file-pads,” at the niche hand-made stationery making unit. “While the Reserve Bank of India has offered 70 tons of shredded notes to us, Puzhal jail officials have so far taken delivery of nine tons…We will bring the rest of it in a phased manner,” TN Prison Department, DIG (in charge), A Murugesan told PTI. So far about 1.5 tons of banned currency has been used to make the file-pads, he said.
Using the demonetised currency about 1,000 file-pads are made everyday at Puzhal. Shredded notes are first made into pulp, then solidified by pouring it into a die-mould and eventually the notes are made hard pads, all in a manual process. Besides using the banned notes, file-pads are also made using specially procured hard pads from Khadi, the official said. Used in government offices, a file pad is a type of semi-corrugated, hard pad with corners embellished with red coloured cloth material. Its cover tag has “Urgent” and “Ordinary” markings, typical of the stationery used in government office. While the convicts get 25 days of file pad making work in a month, they get wages ranging between Rs 160 to Rs 200 (for eight hours a day) depending upon whether they are skilled, semi-skilled or skilled.
There is a proposal to upgrade the hand-made stationery making unit at Puzhal into a semi-automated facility which will enhance the productivity, the official said. Though six other jails in Tamil Nadu including Vellore, Salem and Madurai make such file-pads, Puzhal is the only centre to make such stationery out of demonetised currency. Approximately 1.5 lakh file-pads are produced every month in Tamil Nadu. Central jails in the state specialise in other areas of production apart from stationery-making by using convicts as its labour force. While Puzhal has a shoe polish making unit, Vellore leads in leather-based accessories such as belts and Tiruchirappalli has a soap bar making unit while Cuddalore makes caps, he said.