The free distribution of over one crore sarees for women below the poverty line for the upcoming traditional 'Bathukamma' festival began across Telangana on September 18. The Telangana government said that about 1.04 crore women would be given sarees free of cost. The scheme costs Rs 222 crore.
However, the saree distribution found itself in a row with the sarees allegedly being burnt over poor quality.
Meanwhile, a video purportedly showing a group of women fighting near a counter distributing free sarees at Saidabad has gone viral.
While half the sarees, 52 lakh of them, were procured by weavers in Telangana, mainly Sircilla and the remaining sarees were imported from Surat in Gujarat.
Police said the fighting women were separated and the saree distribution programme proceeded after the incident.
"On the occasion of 'Bathukamma' festival, all the poor women above the age of 18 will get sarees as a gift irrespective of caste, community or religion," Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao had earlier said.
District Collectors of 31 districts in the state are overseeing the saree distribution programme, Commissioner Textiles Shailaja Rama Iyer, had said.
There was a tender process involved, however, TDP MLA Revanth Reddy claims that the government distributed poor quality sarees and it is a Rs 150 crore scam. In a press conference the MLA alleged that the Telangana State Textiles Complex Co-Operative Society Limited had given an advertisement on July 10 in The Hindu inviting Expression of Interest (EoI) for the task. No one turned up during the deadline and so the organisation decided to take it upon themselves to devise a plan.
He alleged that KTR ignored other textile weavers from Gadwal, Kothakota, Pochampalli, Warangal and instead gave the order to Sircilla.
Telangana IT Minister K T Rama Rao told reporters 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, he said.
On hearing the furore being created and the sarees being burnt, KTR alleged that Congress leaders were behind the incident of burning the distributed sarees at places like Chalgal in Jagitial district.
It is an utterly low level politics to burn the sarees, he alleged.