YS Jagan Mohan Reddy asked the volunteers to bear in mind that "service to humans is service to God".
The Andhra Pradesh government on Monday gave away Rs 228.74 crore in the form of awards to a total of 2,22,990 village and (municipal) ward volunteers in recognition of their "selfless and immaculate services" to the people of the state.
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy formally launched the programme on the eve of Telugu New Year's Day Ugadi, at a state function in Penamaluru Assembly constituency near Vijayawada city.
"I salute the volunteers for rendering selfless service and effectively delivering the government's welfare schemes right at the people's doorstep. You are great soldiers with a great heart, who understood the people's concerns. You are now being treated as a member of each (beneficiary) family," the Chief Minister said on the occasion.
Mr Reddy asked the volunteers to bear in mind that "service to humans is service to God" and carry out their tasks in a disciplined manner.
He said the government was spending Rs 230 crore on the awards, in three categories that carried a certificate, badge, shawl besides the cash component.
The state government released Rs 261 crore for the awards and organising the felicitation functions in all the 175 Assembly segments over the next few days.
About 2.18 lakh volunteers were being presented the Seva Mitra award that carried a cash reward of Rs 10,000 each, 4,000 were being awarded the Seva Ratna with Rs 20,000 each and 875 being given the Seva Vajra with a reward of Rs 30,000 each.
The awardees were chosen based on parameters like corruption-free delivery of services, integrity, one-year service without complaints and household surveys.
"This is just the beginning. The awards will be presented every year from now on, so everyone should try to excel and climb the next level," the Chief Minister said.
The Jagan Mohan Reddy government had brought in the volunteer system in villages and urban wards to help deliver welfare schemes right at the people's doorstep.
About 2.5 lakh volunteers have been functioning across the state for the past 20 months on an honorarium payment of Rs 5,000 each.
Information Minister Perni Venkataramaiah (Nani), local Legislator K Parthasarthy, Village and Ward Secretariat Department Special Chief Secretary Ajay Jain and other officials attended.