The Telangana government free saree drive on Monday ended in women exchanging blows, pulling each other by hair as purportedly seen by video aired by local news channel. The video aired purportedly showed a few women exchanging blows while a few others were seen shoving and attacking with footwear.
Another video purportedly showed a group of women fighting near a counter distributing free sarees at Saidabad. Many even allegedly burnt the sarees over poor quality.
The Telangana government began free distribution of over one crore sarees for women below the poverty line and above the age of 18 years for the upcoming traditional ‘Bathukamma’ festival. It said that about 1.04 crore women would be given sarees free of cost. The scheme costs Rs222 crore.
Telangana IT Minister KT Rama said that the government targeted to distribute about 1.04 crore sarees at over 8,000 centres in the state. About 25 lakh sarees were distributed on the first day itself, he said.
District Collectors of 31 districts in the state are overseeing the saree distribution programme, Commissioner Textiles Shailaja Rama Iyer said.
She said power-loom weavers of Sircilla in the state have woven over 50 lakh sarees measuring up to 3.75 crore metres while remaining sarees have been procured from Surat after following open competitive tender process. “There are over 500 designs of sarees which are being distributed. Polyester saree distribution has been taken up… we got feedback that cotton sarees should also be distributed and we are open to the feedback,” she said.
On the complaints over alleged ‘poor’ quality of sarees, Iyer and Principal Secretary of the Industries Jayesh Ranjan said there is no compromise with regard to quality of sarees. “We stand by the quality ofthe sarees. As per specifications the sarees have been produced and there is no problem at all,” they claimed.
Iyer maintained that there is no quality issue with regard to sarees being distributed.
On allegations that sarees priced at Rs 50 were distributed, both Ranjan and Iyer dismissed the allegations and said each Sircilla saree is priced at Rs 224 while the Surat saree costs Rs 200.