SPG to clear jammers to be installed in jails by state govts

The jammers proposed to be installed in jails across the country will now have to be cleared and validated by the Special Protection Group (SPG) with the entire process being monitored by the Union cabinet secretariat. According to the Centre, jammers installed by the state governments could hamper the "VVIP" movement of those including the President, Prime Minister, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and others.

The SPG responsible for protecting VVIPs in the country will clear and validate the jammers before any state government can install these in jails.

In a letter (a copy of which is with The Indian Express) by Union Secretary (Security) Yogesh Gupta, the Cabinet Secretariat has also told the state governments that "the jammers should be used only for the specific purpose and in the event of visit of any SPG protectee(s) to the state, these should be used with the prior consent of the SPG".

In Haryana, where the installing process was at an advanced stage, the project was stalled mid-way as the Cabinet Secretariat asked the state government to first take its approval before going ahead with any such installations. There are 19 jails, including two central jails, one borstal jail, four sub jails and 12 district jails in Haryana. In nearly all, inmates use mobile phones. In the last one year, over 150 cellphones have been recovered from criminals lodged in various jails across the country.

For two years now, Haryana has been trying to install jammers in jails and proposed to install 140 jammers in 19 jails. The Cabinet Secretariat, while clearing the project jammers for Haryana jails, has directed the state government to purchase 140 "static cell phone jammers" from M/s Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Hyderabad. With each jammer costing around Rs 35-40 lakh, the cost of procuring 140 jammers will be around Rs 50-55 crore, said sources. However, the state government's entire annual budget for such purchases is only Rs 5 crore.

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