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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

‘Not worth for cleaning floors, an insult’: Women reject KCR’s gift of sarees

Far from being happy, many women dumped the sarees chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s government distributed as a gift for Dussehra, and accused him of insulting them with its poor quality. 

india Updated: Sep 18, 2017 23:39 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
A pile of sarees being burnt on the road (left); a woman receives a saree from Telangana health minister Laxma Reddy in Mahabubnagar district.
A pile of sarees being burnt on the road (left); a woman receives a saree from Telangana health minister Laxma Reddy in Mahabubnagar district. (HT Photo)

Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s much-publicised Bathukamma Saree Scheme to distribute sarees as Dussehra gift to 1.5 lakh women below poverty line (BPL) has drawn flak for poor quality of the garments while the opposition hinted at a scam.

The women who were given the impression that they would get good quality sarees for the festive season are not happy. Instances of women rejecting the sarees at the fair price shop counters, burning them on the roads, cleaning vehicles with the gifted sarees and throwing them into dustbins have been reported from different parts of Telangana.

Rao had announced the scheme in his Independence Day speech. The saree scheme was a two-pronged strategy of the government to please power loom weavers by giving them work and womenfolk by gifting them sarees on the occasion of Bathukamma, a folk festival celebrated during Dussehra Navratri days. The government ordered a total of 1.05 lakh sarees at a cost of Rs 222 crore for the scheme. The beneficiary women from BPL families were to be distributed sarees for three days starting Monday.

But the women, mostly agriculture labourers in villagers, trashed the scheme giving it a thumbs down.

“We skipped today’s work, which would have fetched us a daily wage of over Rs 400, and stood in queues before the fair price shops for hours hoping to get some nice sarees for the Bathukamma festival. But we were thoroughly disappointed over the quality of the polyester sarees, which does not cost even Rs 50-Rs 60 each. It is not worth even for cleaning floors. KCR should not have taken up the scheme at all, rather than insulting us with the poor quality of sarees,” a woman said.

At Jagitial, women staged protests against poor quality sarees by burning them on road within hours of their distribution. In Bhongir too, women reportedly threw the sarees on the road and enacted Bathukamma skit, singing songs and dancing around them.

The protests came as a shock to officials. Handlooms and textiles director Shailaja Ramayyar convened a meeting to review the situation. She told media later that 25 lakh sarees were distributed on Monday.

“Though there were certain issues in some places, it went on smoothly. There is no truth in the allegations that the sarees lacked quality. They were all polyester sarees made on power looms and are durable,” she said.

Opposition parties found fault with the government for hurriedly introducing the scheme without checking the quality. “It is a big flop. The government has failed to ensure quality of sarees. It has humiliated women folk,” Pradesh Congress Committee chief Capt N Uttam Kumar Reddy said.

Telugu Desam Party legislator A Revanth Reddy said the scheme smacked of a big scam. “Each saree is supposed to cost around Rs 200 as per the government announcement, but what was distributed to them was a saree worth not even Rs 50,” he alleged.

But IT and textiles minister K T Rama Rao alleged that the opposition parties were indulging in baseless allegations to defame the government. “The scheme was introduced with a noble objective. Let us not politicise it for petty gains,” he said.