Saree bonanza: How KCR hopes to woo both women and weavers with a single scheme

While women in Telangana will get sarees during the Bathukamma festivities, the scheme will provide work to over 20,000 powerloom weavers in Rajanna Sircilla district.

telangana Updated: Jun 07, 2017 19:24 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
Officials examine a saree that’s likely to be gifted to women by the Telangana government on the occasion of Bathukamma.(HT photo)

Sircilla, a town in Telangana’s Rajanna Sircilla district, is abuzz with activity.

Over 20,000 powerloom weavers, who had been sitting idle due to lack of work until recently, are now busy trying to meet an August 15 deadline to produce 84 lakh sarees ordered by the Telangana government as part of a welfare scheme.

“We received official orders on Tuesday, but saree production had already begun last week. We have our hands full for the next two months,” Srinivas Manche, who heads the Sircilla Mutually Aided Weavers Cooperative Society, told HT.

With barely two years left for the next assembly elections, chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has started wooing voters – including women, farmers, youth, SCs, STs and OBCs and minorities – by announcing a series of welfare schemes.

As part of this strategy, Rao has hit upon the idea of gifting sarees to womenfolk on the occasion of Bathukamma, a festival celebrated through September and October. “Women in rural areas of Telangana celebrate Bathukamma on the completion of the kharif season. Though it’s customary to wear new clothes on the occasion, many poor women cannot afford them. So, the best way to win their heart is to give them sarees,” a textiles department official said on the condition of anonymity.

A powerloom unit in Sircilla, the ‘textile capital’ of Telangana. (HT Photo)

Job creation is another important objective that Rao hopes to achieve through this initiative.

The textile town of Sircilla is home to one lakh people, and nearly 70 per cent of its population belongs to the Padmashali (weavers) community. “Over 20,000 families here depend on powerlooms either directly or indirectly. For the last few years, they have been sitting idle due to lack of orders,” said T Vishwanatham, a local weaver.

This had taken a heavy toll on the textile town.

Though there is no official data on the suicide rate in Sircilla, Samala Mallesham – a local trade union leader – claimed that at least 150-200 people kill themselves every year. “Around 210 weavers committed suicide last year,” he said.

Moreover, the government is hard-pressed to create work for the weavers because Sircilla is represented by Rao’s son – industries minister KT Rama Rao – in the state assembly.

Sources in the textile department said manufacturing each 6.3-metre saree costs Rs 120, and an additional Rs 80 goes into dyeing and printing it. While elderly women will get plain sarees with a border under the scheme, younger women can lay claim to printed ones.

Weavers, who conjure up to 60 metres of saree material a day, are granted a remuneration of Rs 5 per metre. “About Rs 200 crore in funds is being spent on the saree scheme. While it has brought cheers to weavers’ families, we hope it won’t be a one-time affair,” said Vishwanatham.

First Published: Jun 07, 2017 19:24 IST