Holi colours packaged by Yerawada jail inmates to be exportedNews — By The Desk on March 10, 2011 at 11:51 AM
Times of India: The natural holi colours packaged by the women inmates of the Yerawada Central Prison in Pune will now be exported to seven cities in the country and also to the UK and the US. The colours are made by women self-help groups in Pune and Karnataka, from turmeric, flowers and beetroot.
Forty women prisoners of the prison were trained to package the natural and eco-friendly colours, through an initiative by the city-based social enterprise eCoexist that promotes eco-sensitive products. In the process, the inmates have also earned money from packaging 5,300 kg of holi colour last month.
Manisha Gutman, founder eCoexist told TOI that the packaging of ‘Rang Dulaar’ colours provides an opportunity to the women prisoners to earn an income. This semi-skilled work requires a relatively low level of skill and can be done both by young and older women.
Interestingly, a filmmaker in UK has placed an order for these colours to be used in his film. “We have also been approached by Indians based in the US who wish to use the natural colours during Holi celebrations there,” Gutman said.
S V Khatavkar, superintendant, Yerawada Central Prison, said that at present there are 318 women inmates lodged at the prison. The authorities encourage them to take up skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled work and pay daily wages. They grow vegetables, package incense sticks and work in the press for making file boards and letter pads. The work helps them earn money for their own needs or for sending home.
These colours were made by women farmers of the NGO Vanastree based in Sirsi district in Karnataka while another 300 kg of colour from beetroot was made by women from the city’s Vishrantwadi area.
“This year, five colours in red, blue, green, yellow and orange are made available. Total 5,000 kg of colour is made from turmeric, rice flour, indigo and contain no artificial colours, fillers or preservatives, while another 300 kg colour is made from beetroot, which is water soluble and gives a beautiful pink colour. They are all lab tested and free from heavy metals,” she said.
Gutman pointed out that majority of the colours sold in market have heavy metals that can cause health hazards.
The colours are distributed in cities like Pune, Bangalore, Goa, Delhi, Mumbai, Vadodra and Ahmedabad.
The colours will also be distributed to seven city-based NGOs and to Akanksha in Mumbai, which works for special children.