New Delhi: The government will achieve the target of giving 8 crore free cooking gas (LPG) connections to the poor nearly seven months ahead of schedule with Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to handover the 8-croreth connection on Saturday.
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) was launched on May 1, 2016, with a target to give 5 crore connections to women members of poor households by March 2019. The target was later raised to 8 crore connections by March 2020.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be handing over the 8 croreth connection under PMUY at an event which will be organised in Sendra, Aurangabad, Maharashtra on September 7,” an official statement said here.
The scheme, together with the government’s push to replace polluting firewood in kitchens, has led to LPG coverage rising to about 95 per cent of the population from 55 per cent in May 2014.
Under PMUY, the government provides a subsidy of Rs 1,600 to state-owned fuel retailers for every free LPG gas connection that they give to poor households. This subsidy is intended to cover the security fee for the cylinder and the fitting charges.
The beneficiary has to buy her own cooking stove. To reduce the burden, the scheme allows beneficiaries to pay for the stove and the first refill in monthly instalments. However, the cost of all subsequent refills has to be borne by the beneficiary household.
To reduce financial burden on poor households, the government has given an option to them to purchase a 5-kg bottle or the regular 14.2-kg cylinder.
“The Scheme aims to provide clean cooking fuel to poor households and replace the unhealthy conventional cooking fuels such as firewood, cowdung, etc. The use of LPG has its benefits on the health of women and children, environment and economic productivity of women,” the statement said.
Three state owned oil marketing companies — Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) — “implemented the scheme in all the States/UTs of the country in a mission mode and achieved the target of 8 crore connections, seven months ahead of the timelines set (March 2020),” it said.
The states of Uttar Pradesh (1.46 crore), West Bengal (88 lakh), Bihar (85 lakh), Madhya Pradesh (71 lakh) and Rajasthan (63 lakh) have topped the list with highest number of beneficiaries under PMUY.
Nearly 40 per cent of the beneficiaries belong to SC/ST categories.
In December 2018, the government extended PMUY to all poor households. The scheme originally targeted giving free LPG connections to mostly rural women members of below the poverty line (BPL) households. The list was later expanded to include all SC/ST households, forest dwellers, most backward classes, inhabitants of islands, nomadic tribes and tea estates, among others.
This will further increase penetration of LPG to 100 per cent households.
“The implementation of PMUY has earned domestic as well as global appreciation at various forums,” the statement said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) hailed PMUY as a decisive intervention by the government to facilitate the switch to clean household energy use, thereby addressing the problems associated with indoor household pollution.