EC stops TRS' saree scheme

A file photo of people waiting to collect sarees from TRS leaders as part of the Bathukamma saree scheme in 2017.

In a major jolt to the ruling TRS, the Election Commission has refused permission for distribution of free sarees under the Bathukamma Saree scheme. Over 1 crore sarees, worth Rs 280 crore, were supposed to be distributed in the state on October 12.

The commission, in a communiqué to Telangana Chief Electoral Officer Rajat Kumar on Wednesday, said it has not permitted the distribution of sarees on the occasion of Bathukamma.

The CEO had earlier sought clarification on the implementation of the scheme, which was started a year ago.

The state unit of the Congress had petitioned the EC against the scheme. The Telangana government has already placed orders for the sarees from the power loom centres in Sircilla district, with the additional aim of providing employment to the weavers.

The district authorities have already procured 40 lakh sarees and have arranged for their distribution.

"Around 16,000 weavers here worked on over 20,000 power looms to weave these sarees. They earn around Rs 18,000 per month thanks to the scheme," an official from Sircilla told media.

Officials said the weavers will continue work and wait for further orders as there is a possibility of the EC allowing the distribution of the sarees through the public distribution system.

Rytu bandhu cheques

With the EC saying no to the distribution of sarees, the TRS government is now worried about its flagship programme 'Rythu bandhu'.

The scheme involves a cash transfer of Rs 4,000 per acre per season to more than 50 lakh farmers in the state. The CEO has referred the scheme to the EC for advice.

"Any scheme that involves individual benefit can be construed as influence," Kumar had said at a press conference.

He said the EC will have a fresh look into the schemes that are already in force. The Rythu Bandhu scheme is scheduled for November.

Meanwhile, caretaker Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, addressing an election campaign at Nizamabad, declared that the pensions given to the different sections of the society will be substantially increased if the TRS comes back to power.

"These amounts will be mentioned in the party manifesto. The remuneration of the Rythu Samakhya (farmers' federation) members will also be hiked," KCR said.

He was also keen on continuing with the 'Kanti Velugu' scheme, which offered free eye testing and distribution of spectacles.

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EC stops TRS' saree scheme

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