Hyderabad: Textiles and handlooms minister K.T. Rama Rao on Monday termed the burning of Bathukamma saris “orchestrated and manufactured protests” by Opposition parties to defame the TRS government and obstruct distribution of one crore free saris to poor women in the state.
Addressing a press conference at the Secretariat, Mr Rama Rao said some student leaders and activists belonging to the Opposition Congress and Telugu Desam parties forcibly snatched away saris that were distributed to women and burnt them.
“We are well aware how Opposition parties have been obstructing any development or welfare programmes taken up by TRS government for the last three years. They have not even left Bathukamma saris now. They tried to create unnecessary controversy under the pretext of poor quality and burnt them at five or six distribution centres, which is not even 0.001 per cent of the total 26 lakh saris distributed on day one,” Mr Rao said.
Accusing the Opposition parties of resorting to “pathetic, disgusting and third grade politics,” Mr Rama Rao said, “These untoward incidents were witnessed in Jagtial Assembly constituency held by Congress senior MLA T. Jeevan Reddy and Sathupally constituency held by TP MLA Sandra Venkata Veeraiah. This clearly shows who is behind these incidents.”
A woman in Jagtial has already filed a complaint with the police against Congress activists for forcibly taking a sari from her and burning it and the case was registered, the minister added.
Stating that Bathukamma had a “sentimental and emotional attachment” for women, Mr Rao said, “Women will not even throw away flowers used to decorate Bathukamma. If women really did not like the saris as claimed by the Opposition parties, they would not have used them, or would have given them away to someone. But they would never burn saris associated with Bathukamma.”
He said that the sari distribution programme was a huge success and nearly 26 lakh saris have been distributed of the targeted 1.04 crore in nearly 10,000 centres in all 31 districts.
Defending the government’s decision to place an order with textile firms in Surat, Gujarat, Mr Rama Rao said, “The scheme was aimed to help debt-ridden weavers in the state by placing an order for 1.04 crore saris worth over Rs 200 crore. But the decision was taken only three months ago.”
He added, it’s not possible to manufacture such a huge quantity in three months here. Due to paucity of time, we had to split the order between our weavers and Surat textile firms in the ratio of 50:50 to meet the targets.
“Since, Sircilla has 40,000 powerlooms, we placed an order for 50 lakh saris. From next year, we will place complete order with weavers, he said.
Mr Rama Rao refused to comment on the TSTD working president A. Revanth Reddy’s allegation that there was a Rs 150 crore scam in procuring the saris. He said, “I will comment only if they come out with any proof in support of their allegations. There is no point in reacting to baseless allegations.”
Each sari costs Rs 200 not Rs 50, say officials
Industries secretary Jayesh Ranjan and director of handlooms and textiles, Shailaja Ramaiyer, dismissed allegations that they had supplied poor quality Bathukamma saris to women.
Addressing a press conference at the Secretariat, they said each sari was worth over Rs 200 and the allegation that the saris cost `50 was “baseless and unfounded.”
Mr Jayesh said, “These are 100 per cent polyester saris procured from Surat. Orders were placed with textile firms in Surat after quality checks were done at four levels by textile experts. It’s not possible for anyone to make polyester saris for Rs 50. They cost over Rs 200. If some people are trying to create needless controversy over these saris with hidden agenda or malafide intention, there is little we can do. We are ready to send the samples of these saris to anyone for quality checks or any tests to find whether they cost `50 or Rs 200 each.”
Ms Shailaja Ramaiyer said the scheme was introduced to help the debt-ridden weavers’ community.
“We opted for polyester saris because they are durable. We got the proposal for cotton saris later. But due to insufficient time, we could not change our decision. We will examine cotton saris next time.”
She said due to the order of Bathukamma saris, the income of powerloom weavers in Siricilla had more than doubled from Rs 7,000 per month to Rs 20,000....