The free distribution of over one crore sarees for women below the poverty line for the upcoming traditional 'Bathukamma' festival began across Telangana today.
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 here has gone viral.
The video aired by some local news channels purportedly shows few women exchanging blows and pulling each other by hair while few others are seen shoving and attacking with footwear.
Following the fight, women police personnel immediately intervened and separated the fighting women.
The exact reason behind the scuffle was not clear, though reports said an argument broke out between a group of women over the queue for sarees.
Police said the fighting women were separated and the saree distribution programme proceeded after the incident.
Telangana IT Minister K T Rama Rao told reporters here 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 today, he said.
Hitting out at the opposition parties, he 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.
"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, told reporters here today.
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.
Reacting to queries that some women complained and protested in few places 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 of the 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.
"Sarees are inspected and also tested and there is no such quality issue. If there is any specific problem on one or two sarees we have permitted replacement. If there is any specific issue on quality we will take up the matter," he said.
"Factories were also inspected. There are no quality issues in the sarees and I want to indicate that very clearly. We stand firm by the quality of the sarees that we have produced," Iyer said.
"If there is any specific quality issue with regard to specifications it can be brought our notice," added Iyer.
She said saree specifications of Surat are slightly different when compared to Sircilla.
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.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)