'Ujjwala': Eight croreth beneficiary from Maharashtra struggles to buy gas cylinder
Aurangabad: Ayesha Shaikh, who became the eight croreth beneficiary of the national scheme to provide LPG connections to BPL women and received Ujjwala certificate by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2019, is finding it difficult now to pay for a cooking gas cylinder in view of the frequent hike in rates.
Like Shaikh, another beneficiary Mandabai Pable, who hails from Lohgaon in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, is also struggling to buy the cylinder for cooking gas.
Videos of Shaikh and Pable using firewood for earthen stoves in their respective kitchens are being aired by a Marathi news channel they spoke to.
On September 7, 2019, PM Modi handed then 30-year-old Shaikh an Ujjwala certificate, making her the 'Beneficiary No.
8 crore' of the country-wide scheme to provide LPG connections to women from Below Poverty Line (BPL).
"The cost of an LPG cylinder has exceeded my room rent now. I pay Rs 600 in rent whereas the price of the cooking gas cylinder has crossed Rs 700. What should we do? Should we pay for the gas cylinder or take care of the household expenses?" Shaikh asked in anguish while speaking to ABP Maza.
Shaikh, a daily wager and the mother of five, is a resident of Indiranagar in Ajanta village of Aurangabad
For Shaikh, the new gas connection had proved to be a boon as it spared her the labour of gathering firewood for her earthen stove. She had also started spending some more time with her children.
However, the frequent hike in the rates of cooking gas seems too much for Shaikh.
On Monday, cooking LPG price was hiked by Rs 25 per cylinder across all categories, including subsidised fuel and those availed by Ujjwala scheme beneficiaries - the fourth increase in rates in a month's time.
LPG prices have gone up by Rs 125 per 14.2-kg cylinder since the beginning of February, as per price data from state-owned oil marketing companies.
A 14.2-kg cooking gas cylinder now costs Rs 828 in Aurangabad while the rate of a 19-kg commercial gas cylinder is Rs 1,642, a gas agency official said.
"We had received the new gas connection for free. After using the cylinder for a month, we failed to refill it.
After one month, we compromised on our room rent and somehow managed to buy the gas cylinder," Shaikh said.
She said her room owner asked her family members to vacate as they failed to pay the monthly rent.
"We then stayed at our sister's place," she added. Unlike Shaikh, Pable was caustic when asked about the rise in the price of cooking gas cylinders.
"Cooking gas cylinder has become dearer. I and my husband cannot afford it now. The gas was free only for the namesake. We live in agriculture fields and have to ask others to get the cylinder for us by paying extra money. There is no home delivery here," she said.
The BJP-led Central government is facing flak from Opposition over the hike in rates of cooking gas cylinders and fuel.