Caught in administrative wrangles, the implementation of Samajwadi Party’s electoral promise of free distribution of saris and blankets to BPL families is unlikely to materialise in near future.
At the moment, the issue lies pending at the chief minister’s office.
The government is to distribute around four crore saris, two each to every poor woman, and 60 lakh blankets to elderly persons, for which a decision has already been taken to constitute district level committees headed by the district magistrate for the purchase and distribution of saris and blankets.
But a fresh row has erupted over specification given by the weavers for the saris.
As per the government’s plan, state weavers would supply 60% saris and the remaining 40% would be done by national textile corporation, UPICA and handloom.
Similarly, NTC had been asked to supply blankets.
While a sari would cost 230, the cost of the blanket has been fixed at Rs. 425.
Sources said here on Monday that the UP weavers are finding it difficult to cope with the government’s specification of saris and, therefore, want the rates to be revised, which the Panchayat Raj department, nodal agency for the distribution, was not willing to accept.
“Rates would have to be common for all suppliers,” said a senior Panchayat Raj department officer on Monday. Moreover, a lobby in the government is still trying for a centralised purchasing at the state headquarters. The government had decided to decentralise the process of purchase and distribution in order to maintain transparency and quality.
A government order (GO) was issued in March providing for free distribution of two saris each to women and one blanket each for the elderly persons of below the poverty line (BPL) families, as promised by the SP in its manifesto during the assembly polls.
In order to improve the financial condition of minority-dominated weavers’ community, the government had planned to purchase saris from them, which, according to sources, could also come in handy for the Samajwadi Party to keep the community happy.
The community has long been facing business crisis and large number of looms have been closed down because of various financial and other market problems.
This scheme could revive the weaving business in UP. There is large concentration of weavers in Mubarakpur, Khairabad, Muhammadabad, Cherayya Kot, Jahanganj, Bahadurganj, Ghosi, Mau and adjoining areas.