The Telangana government on Monday began distribution of free sarees as a Bathukamma flower festival gift but it created a controversy over their alleged poor quality after women threw them away or set them on fire at some places in the state.
While the government held the opposition parties responsible for the burning of sarees, police registered cases against those involved. Police in Bhongir town booked 18 persons, including a Congress leader and his wife.
Under the scheme, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government aims to distribute 1.04 crore sarees worth Rs 222 crore as festival gifts. It claimed 25 lakh sarees were distributed through 10,000 centres on the first day.
Textiles Minister K.T. Rama Rao told reporters that women who received sarees did not set them on fire. If women don’t like sarees, they would keep them aside but never burn them, he said.
Rama Rao, son of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, alleged that since the opposition parties were not able to digest the government’s popularity they were resorting to dirty tricks.
While women threw the sarees away or set them afire at some places, at other places they complained they were given polyster sarees of poor quality even though the government had announced sarees procured from weavers would be distributed.
Commissioner of Textiles Sailaja Ramaiyyer denied that the sarees were of poor quality. She said around 52 lakh sarees were procured from Telangana weavers whereas the remaining were procured from Surat and other cities due to shortage of time.
The sarees, in 500 designs and colours, would be distributed till September 20.
All women aged 18 and above and belonging to families holding white ration cards are eligible for the free sarees.
The government said the procurement of sarees from state weavers would help provide work to them.