PM launches Ujjwala Yojana scheme to provide free LPG connections to poor
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched the Rs 8,000 crore Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) scheme to provide 5 crore LPG connections to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in the next three financial years.
This scheme is being funded in part from savings from over 1 crore ‘well-off’ cooking gas users voluntarily giving up their Liquefied Petroleum Gas subsidy. The ‘Give it up’ initiative was first rolled out a year ago on March 27, 2015, at the behest of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
Addressing the large gathering on the occasion, the Prime Minister said, “The participation of such a large number of people in an official programme related to development only proves that the schemes are actually reaching out to the beneficiaries even at grass roots levels. Thus, we have shown how petroleum sector is for the poor”. “Over 1 crore consumers have given up their subsidy leading to a savings of nearly Rs 2000 crore per year. This money would thus be utilised to provide LPG connections to families Below Poverty Line,” said the Prime Minister.
Elaborating on the PMUY, Prime Minister said that over 5 crore Below Poverty Line women would be provided LPG connections in the next three years, without having to pay any security deposit. While the administrative cost of Rs 1600 per connection, pressure regulator booklet and safety hose would be borne by the Government, consumers would have the option to purchase gas stove and refills on EMI.
To cater to this increased demand for LPG, nearly 10,000 new distributorships and adequate infrastructure expansion plans are in the pipeline, which will lead to improved employment opportunities for the youth. This is the first time in the history of the country that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas would implement a welfare scheme benefitting crores of women belonging to the poorest households. Consumers are currently entitled to 12 cylinders of 14.2 kg each or 34 bottles of 5 kg each in a year at subsidised rates.
Modi added, “In our country, the poor have limited access to cooking gas (LPG). The spread of LPG cylinders has been predominantly in the urban and semi-urban areas with the coverage mostly in middle class and affluent households. But there are serious health hazards associated with cooking based on polluting fuels. According to WHO estimates there are about 5 lakh deaths in India alone due to polluting cooking fuels. Indoor air pollution is also responsible for a significant number of acute respiratory illnesses in young children. According to experts, having an open fire in the kitchen is like inhaling smoke from 400 cigarettes per day.”
Providing Liquefied Petroleum Gas connections to Below Poverty Line households will ensure universal penetration of cooking gas in the country. This measure will empower women and protect their health. It will reduce drudgery and the time spent on cooking. It will also provide employment for rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas.
Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Independent Charge, Dharmendra Pradhan has already announced that distribution system will be further strengthened to ensure catering to people’s demand especially in remote areas. He also said that 10,000 new LPG distributorships have been planned during the next 3 financial years to expand the coverage area.
The aim is to achieve the ambitious target of converting an additional 10 crore households (of which 5 crore would be Below Poverty Line families) to LPG usage by the end of 2018.