It’s raining sops in Telangana. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government is now set to distribute free sarees among women as gift for Bathukamma, a folk festival celebrated across the state coinciding with Dussehra festivities. Around one crore women are expected to receive the gift.
The Bathukamma saree scheme, introduced in 2017 by the K Chandrashekar Rao government, had come under fire in its first year due to poor quality of sarees, majority of which were procured from Gujarat’s Surat. It was also reported that the sarees were rejected in several villages of the state.
Learning a lesson from this experience, the government had taken due care in procuring better quality sarees last year. However, the distribution could not take place on time due as the model code of conduct had come into force following the premature dissolution of the state Assembly on September 6. But after returning to power following the December Assembly elections, the government resumed the distribution of sarees, this time in view of the Sanskranti festival this January.
“It is a token gift for one crore sisters of Telangana from the Chief Minister who cares for their welfare as an elder brother,” the Chief Minister’s son and Industries and Textiles Minister K T Rama Rao said.
It must be noted that the saree scheme is not being implemented in Huzurnagar Assembly constituency, which is going to polls on October 21.
Bulk orders help Sircilla weavers
Sircilla, known as ‘Textile Town’ of Telangana, has turned into a beehive of activity for the last few months as the government placed bulk orders to the power loom weavers in the town.
The saree scheme has provided enough work to the weavers who used to struggle in the past due to lack of work. Besides, there have been reports of Sircilla weavers committing suicide due to abject poverty as well. However, through the saree scheme, each weaver is now earning ₹16,000 to ₹20,000 per month, the Textiles Minister said.
Moreover, the government is also set to place orders for uniforms for employees of the state road transport corporation with the weavers in order to further improve their incomes.
According to officials, Sircilla weavers now getting regular employment due to the state government’s intervention at a time when textile units in states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are battling with crisis. “We take due care in ensuring that the sarees are of high quality with colourful designs and attractive patters,” said Textiles Commissioner Sailaja Ramayyar.
Each saree cost ₹280 excluding GST
This year, the government has spent ₹313 crore on the production of over one crore sarees. Each saree costs the government ₹280, excluding GST. The Collectors of the 31 districts in the state are overseeing the saree distribution programme.
“The sarees are made from 100% polyester yard with zari border. For the first time, we have produced sarees with 100 different shades and designs and in 10 different colours. These sarees range from a length of six metres to nine metres to suit different age group of women,” Ramayyar said.
Bathukamma is a week-long floral festival of Telangana, celebrated by womenfolk with exotic flowers of the region. The festival has over the years become a symbol of Telangana’s culture and identity. Soon after coming to power in 2104, the TRS government had declared it as a state festival.
“The Bathukamma Saree Scheme has a two-fold objective —to provide employment to weavers of Sircilla and to help women from poor families to celebrate the festival with gaiety,” an official said.
The State government also distributes clothes to poor Muslim families during Ramzan and to Christians on the eve of Christmas every year.