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Keeping the home fires burning

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was launched by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi on May 1st, 2016 in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh. The initiative, in line with the dream of the Prime Minister of creating smoke-less villages across the country, has come as a moment of pride for the women in BPL-households for getting LPG connection as an identity of their own and to lead a smoke-free, less polluted, convenient and healthy life. An adult woman member of BPL family, identified through Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data, is given a deposit free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs. 1600 per connection by Government of India, under this scheme.

Why Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana?

The daily act of cooking is a major health hazard for millions of women in India, especially in rural areas, due to the use of unclean fuels.Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, through Ujjwala, is taking this clean and green LPG fuel to millions of economically underprivileged households. Under the aegis of the Ministry, the three public sector oil-marketing companies (OMCs), namely, Indian Oil, HPCL and BPCL, are playing a pivotal role in the physical execution of the scheme.

About 100 million households use unclean traditional biomass fuels such as firewood, dried cow dung, agricultural waste, charcoal etc. as cooking fuel. The toxic smoke emitted by these fuels contains particulate matter and many harmful chemicals that not only cause reddened eyes, but also choke and corrode lungs, causing several ailments, including acute and chronic respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. The smoke also contains carcinogens – chemicals that cause malignancies, especially lung cancer. Apart from women, children also suffer from this harmful kitchen smoke. Inhaling this harmful smoke is equivalent to smoking 400 cigarettes per hour.

Women and children also often walk long distances to collect firewood from remote and lonely places, which is not only a strenuous task but also risky from the point of view of personal safety. Scorpion or snakebites, or attacks by animals and predatory men are a constant threat while collecting wood. Rainy season and extreme heat and cold adds to their woes.

Preparing cow dung cakes (gobar upla) is a time-consuming chore. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) aims to banish household air pollution (HAP) from kitchens.

Quest for Smokeless Kitchens

Under the PMUY 5 crore families living below poverty line (BPL) are to be provided deposit-free LPG connections over a period of three financial years, starting from FY 2016-17. The scheme has a budgetary allocation of Rs 8,000 crore.

Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and other economically underprivileged sections of the society are given priority.
Beneficiaries have been identified on the basis of Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC-2011) data.

States with LPG coverage lower than the national average as on January 1, 2016, are being given priority in for releasing connections.

Every PMUY LPG connection is free of cost and includes the security deposit of a 14.2 kg LPG cylinder, pressure regulator, suraksha hose, DGCC booklet and administration & installation cost for distributor.

LPG – a clean cooking fuel, is women's health ticket to get rid of household air pollution and its concomitant health issues.

LPG brings joy into cooking. There will be no more smoky kitchens, drudgery of collecting firewood or preparing dried cow dung cakes. Cooking takes less time, so women can spend this saved time to pursue other gainful activities.

PMUY primarily serves rural womenfolk, who are now increasingly enjoying the experience of individual identity, as they are being issued LPG connections in their own names based on their Aadhaar cards and bank accounts. PMUY has thus truly given them dignity and a renewed confidence to face the world.

PMUY has become synonymous with women empowerment and social inclusion.

Speedy Implementation

Parallel effort on multiple fronts and help from different quarters have ensured brisk implementation of PMUY.

PMUY has been implemented by meticulous planning, time bound and in mission-mode manner. There has been continuous engagement and support by the Ministry for regular follow-up based on on-ground feedback. Ministry has been closely interacting with Oil Marketing Companies and their District Nodal Officers (DNOs).

Significant IT developments at Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and National Informatics Centre (NIC) has also helped in its speedy implementation

Daily MIS reporting on industry basis through "PMIS"; Dedicated website for PMUY ((www.pmujjwalayojna.com); Toll-free number for PMUY (18002666696) have been also been employed

Freedom fighters, ex-servicemen, other prominent personalities, NGOs and self-help groups have been involved by way of special drives.
A 360° media campaign was launched in regional languages through newspapers, TV, radio, banners, hoarding/standees, social media, etc. to create awareness.

Safety First

Education about safe usage of LPG for first-time users is vital, as most of the PMUY beneficiaries are illiterate and unaware of safe LPG usage practices.

Pictorial safety posters displaying Dos & Don'ts of LPG usage are distributed to all beneficiaries at the time of release of the connection.
Rural Marketing LPG teams of OMCs have conceptualised "Train the Trainers" workshops for field officers, DNOs and proactive distributors, who will in turn train the Anganwadi, primary healthcare workers, etc. at the grassroots level.

A special kit comprising posters and the booklet 'Gyandeep' in local languages, covers safe use of LPG equipment and acts as a ready reference material for master trainers.

Adding a novel dimension to the endeavour are street plays (nukkad natak), interspersed with interactive sessions, which are increasing safety awareness in an innovative and engaging way. Special 'Safety Clinics' are being organised in rural regions to 'demonstrate' the safe use of LPG.Safety and Insurance Card is given to each PMUY beneficiary.

2-Crore Mark in users has been crossed. As on May 1, 2017, PMUY connections crossed the 2-Crore mark, far exceeding the target for the period.

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