Ahead of Bathukamma festival, Telangana govt gifts sarees to one crore women
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi government headed by chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao started distributing colourful sarees on Monday to women below poverty line as a gift for Bathukamma, a folk festival celebrated in the rural areas of the state coinciding with Dushera festivities.
Around 1 crore women are expected to get the sarees. Telangana minister for industry, textiles and Information Technology K T Rama Rao formally launched the scheme at the market yard in Nalgonda town by distributing sarees to local women on Monday.
“It is a token gift for one crore sisters of Telangana from the chief minister, who has been taking care of their welfare as an elder brother. By wearing new colourful sarees, the womenfolk will add new colour to Bathukamma, a floral festival, celebrated across the state with a lot of gaiety,” Rama Rao said.
He also appreciated the efforts of lakhs of weavers who had toiled day and night to produce the sarees on power looms. “We are taking all steps to see that not a single woman misses this festival gift,” he said.
At several other places in the state, the distribution of Bathukamma sarees began in a big way. The saree scheme, however, is not being implemented in Huzurnagar assembly constituency, which is going to by-polls on October 21.
The Bathukamma saree scheme, introduced in 2017 by the KCR government, had come under fire in the first year due to poor quality of sarees, majority of which were bought from Surat. There were reports that at many villages, women rejected the sarees and at some places they even burnt them in protest.
Last year, though the TRS government took enough care to procure better quality of sarees for Bathukamma festival, the distribution could not take place on time due to model code of conduct imposed by the Election Commission of India after KCR dissolved the state assembly on September 6.
It was only after the TRS returned to power in December 7 assembly elections, the government took up the distribution of the sarees for Sankranti festival in January, but it could not be done properly all over the state.
This year, the government began the saree production well in advance by giving bulk orders to power loom weavers at Sircilla, known as textile town of Telangana. “We have taken all care to see that high-quality sarees are produced with colourful designs and attractive patterns,” textiles commissioner Sailaja Ramayyar said.
This year, the government spent Rs 313 crore on production of over one crore sarees. Each saree cost the government Rs 280, apart from GST. “They are made using 100 per cent polyester yard with zari border. For the first time, we have produced sarees with 100 different shades and designs in 10 different colours. The sarees range from a length of six metres to nine-metres to suit different age group of women,” an official familiar with the development said.
Rama rao said the Bathukamma saree scheme had provided enough work to the weavers who used to struggle in the past due to lack of orders and there were instances of several weavers of Sircilla committing suicide due to poverty. “Through Bathukamma saree scheme, each weaver is now able to get Rs 16,000 to Rs 20,000 per month,” he said.
He also announced that from next year, Bathukamma saree itself would become a brand and sarees would be produced under that brand name.