Of the various welfare schemes run by the central government of India, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) has been the best performer. Under this scheme, deposit-free LPG cooking gas connection is provided to very poor (below poverty line) households and connection is released in the name of an adult woman. The scheme was launched on May 1st, 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with an initial target to give these cooking gas connections to five crore (50 million) very poor households.
On Friday March 8, as a testimony to this scheme’s stupendous success, Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, handed over the 70 millionth (7 croreth) LPG cooking gas connection. This seventy millionth (7 croreth) LPG cooking gas connection that was given out within just 34 months of the scheme’s launch is indeed a spectacular achievement for the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. The good news is that the scheme will still continue until it reaches out to the eighth croreth (80 millionth) household with an LPG cooking gas connection.
The current feat of Petroleum Ministry marks a sea change from the quota-permit raj of yesteryears when LPG gas connections remained in perennial short supply even in metropolitan and tier-I cities. Getting a cooking gas cylinder in the rural areas was absolutely unthinkable. Thankfully that era is now behind us.
This Ujjwala Yojana has been recognised by World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of decisive interventions by Narendra Modi government to address the indoor air pollution which accounts for nearly 10 lakh (1 million) deaths every year across India.
Under the current regime, around 69,000 new cooking gas connections are being released every day. This has led to a massive jump in LPG cooking gas connections across the country. In 2014 around 55% households in the country had LPG cooking gas connection while today it stands at 93%. Of these new connections, close to 42% beneficiaries are from the historically deprived Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes.
Further, data reveals that around 82% new LPG connection beneficiaries go for refill of their cylinders such that average refilling is about 6.5 cylinders per beneficiary per year. This marks a healthy cultural shift in the way rural India cooks food. While earlier the BPL (below poverty line) households were forced to burn dry twigs, wood and waste material to cook their food but now they can afford to cook food on the LPG cooking gas.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana LPG Connection is released in the name of adult woman of the very poor (below poverty line) family, subject to the condition that no LPG connection exists in the name of any family member of the household. The scheme also covers a cash assistance of upto Rs 1600 for providing new LPG connection. This cash assistance is provided by the Central Government. The beneficiary bears the cost of hot plate and purchase of first refill. The beneficiary also has the option to take hot plate on purchase of first refill or both on loan basis from zero interest rate and the same is recovered through subsidy received by the beneficiary.
Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that 6800 new distributorships have been given in order to strengthen the rural LPG supply chain. Pradhan explained that the existing infrastructure has been strengthened and the common service centres have also been roped in to assist in the LPG booking and distribution.