The camp was located in natural surroundings of ravines and dense forest. The then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh who inaugurated this camp was so much impressed by this idea of Dr. Sampurnanand that he announced that all the camps to be established in future will be named as Sampurnanand camps.
The prisoners kept in the camp were no longer called prisoners and they were paid wages for the labour done by them on dam site. There were lesser fetters on the inmates and the life-style in the camp was so modelled as to inculcate the spirit of self respect and self-reliance among the inmates. The camp functioned for about one year and was wound up in October 1953 on completion of the construction of dam on the river Chandraprabha.
During this period, about 4200 prisoners were brought to live in the open camp from time to time. They lived in batches of 20 each under a canopy. The results were so encouraging that only 19 out of 4200 prisoners escaped from the camp and 2 died of some disease. The wardens in the camp were plain clothed supervisors without any uniform.
The remarkable achievements of the Chandraprabha Open Air Camps inspired the Uttar Pradesh Government to expand the scheme further. Therefore, on completion of the work on the Chandraprabha dam, the inmates were sent to three different work sites in three batches each having 200 inmates.
The first batch of 200 inmates was sent to a place 3.2 km. from Chakiya to work on a canal which was being widened to a stretch of 2.5 km. They worked as labourers and were paid wages for their work.
The second batch of 200 inmates was deployed for construction of a new road from Chandraprabha to Naugarh after cleaning the forest by felling trees etc.
The third batch was utilised to construct an earth dam at Kamla Rundhi, which was about 6.5 km. from the camp to provide support to the old dam.
2. Sampurnanand Camp, Naugarh:
Most of the inmates of Chandraprabha were sent on October 4, 1953 to another dam site on the river Bulanala, a tributary of river Karmansa about 30 km. further deep in Vindhya Ranges. This open air camp here was well organised and equipped with necessary training’ facilities for inmates.
The camp lasted until January, 1955 and during this period; about 3900 inmates were lodged in the open prison camp. They were accommodated in barracks and tents spread over ‘U’ shaped area which was 500 ft. wide and 500 ft. deep. The number of escape from the camp was only ten, out of which three had escaped because of some family problems. The camp had its own hospital and post-office for the facilities of the inmates.
3. Sampurnanand Camp, Shahgarh:
The Naugarh camp was wound up due to completion of the Bulanala dam in January, 1955. The inmates were therefore, sent to work in a project under work for construction of a subsidiary canal to carry waters of Sharda Sagar to be discharged into Sharda Canal. This project was located in district Pilibhit about 8 km. away from Shahgarh.
The earlier two open air camps were operating in dense forest areas but this was the first camp to be established in the vicinity of plain area. It was surrounded by several villages and the location of the project was close to Shahgarh railway station. There were 2303 inmates living in this camp.
The duration of this open prison was a little over one and a half year (January 19, 1955 to November, 15, 1956) and there were only seven escapes recorded during this period. The inmates were allowed to send their earnings and savings to their families.
4. The Saraya Ghat Camp (Varanasi):
A bridge was being constructed on the river Varuna to link Samath (the ancient seat of learning where Lord Buddha give his first sermon) with Varanasi city. The construction of the said bridge was completed within a record time of a little over four months as the work was started on February 1, 1956 and completed on May 31, 1956.
The inmates of the open prison worked in shifts of 400 each day and night and completed the work much ahead of the scheduled time. They lived in tents pitched in the campus and were paid wages. Only one warder supervised their work. The inmates were free to visit adjoining villages without fetters. Women also moved about freely without any terror or fear from these prisoners.
The then President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad visited this camp and was so impressed by the attitudinal change of the inmates of the camp that he was pleased to remark, “in the soul of an Indian today social values are alive, even if that Indian is a prisoner”. Despite the open atmosphere of the open air camp, only one prisoner escaped which itself speaks of the success these open camps were achieving.