By Vaibhav Chadha
On April 3, 2017 Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Matter of immense joy & pride that the number of beneficiaries of PM Ujjwala Yojana has crossed 2 crore in less than a year!” On May 1, 2016 PM Narendra Modi had launched Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) at Ballia, Uttar Pradesh. PMUY seeks to provide 5 crore LPG connections free of cost to BPL households along with a support of Rs 1600 per connection by 2019. The target set for the year 2016-17 by the Government was to reach 1.5 crore households but the Petroleum Ministry headed by Shri Dharmendra Pradhan accomplished the task of reaching 33% more households than was planned for the whole of 2016-17 in just 11 months.
The identification of eligible BPL families will be made in consultation with the State Governments and the Union Territories. This Scheme would be implemented over three years, namely, the FY 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-191 . District nodal officers of Bharat Petroleum, Indian Oil Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum have been appointed across India for implementing the scheme at the ground level.
Brief Modalities of the PMUY scheme are given as under 2 :
- The connection will be issued to women member of BPL house hold who suffers from at least one deprivation as per SECC 2011 (Rural) data.
- Preference to be given to SC/ST BPL families and the states having lower LPG coverage than the National average as of 1st January 2016.
- Cash assistance of Rs 1600/- per connection will be provided by the Government for each New connection and shall comprise of following :
- Security deposit of 14.2 kg / 5 kg cylinder
- Security deposit of pressure regulator
- Suraksha Hose (1.2 M)
- Installation /demonstration charges payable to distributor
- Cost of issue of DGCC booklet
While the connection charges of Rs 1600/- will be reimbursed by the Government of India, OMCs would provide the option of EMI to interested beneficiaries towards the cost of stove and first supply of gas. OMCS will recover the EMI from the subsidy amount payable to consumer for each refill.
Union Government has allocated a fund of Rs 8000 crore towards implementation of this scheme. PMUY was introduced by the Government to provide clean cooking fuel to the poor rural households. LPG connection under this scheme shall be issued in the name of the woman of the household. PMUY is largely expected to benefit the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe households which live in the most remotest and backward regions of the country.
In India, out of 0.2 billion people using fuel for cooking; 49% use firewood; 8.9% cow dung cake; 1.5% coal, lignite, or charcoal; 2.9% kerosene; 28.6% liquefied petroleum gas (LPG); 0.1% electricity; 0.4% biogas; and 0.5% any other means3 . It is surprising to know that even 70 years after independence 10 crore households out of the total 24 crore households in the country are still deprived of LPG connections and have to rely on primary sources of cooking fuels such as charcoal, crop residues, dried dung cakes, wood…etc. These primary sources of cooking generate high levels of household air pollution that has 1,000 times greater chances of penetrating deep into human lungs. Also, these cooking fuels emit harmful substances such as carbon monoxide, benzene and particulates…etc which result in diseases such as pneumonia, blindness and asthma, tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis and lung cancer. The foremost victims of such harmful particles are women and children who are exposed to Chulha (hearth) where food is generally cooked in rural areas.
Women in India who use fuels such as wood, crop residues and dried dung to cook are nearly 50% more likely to suffer from cataract than those who use cooking gas4 . Indoor air pollution is a bigger killer than outdoor air pollution in India with the recent global burden of diseases report listing the former as second biggest killer and latter as fifth largest. Around 1.3 million people died of indoor air pollution in 2010 whereas death because of outdoor air pollution was around 6.20 lakh. Indoor air pollution is second biggest killer after high blood pressure in India5 .
While launching the scheme in Ballia, PM Narendra had said, “This is a Government for the poor. Whatever we will do, will be for the poor.” PMUY aims to fulfill the concept of “Antyodaya” (serving the last person in the queue) coined by Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya as the poor and downtrodden of the country have at last started getting their dues. After 3 years of Modi Government at the Centre, people are realizing that this Government’s agenda of “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” is not merely an election rhetoric but an inclusive mission to transform the lives of 125 crore Indians.
1. http://www.pmindia.gov.in/en/news_updates/cabinet-approves-pradhan-mantri-ujjwala-yojana-scheme-for-providing-free-lpg-connections-to-women-from-bplhouseholds/ (last visited on 23rd May, 2017)
2. https://indane.co.in/pradhan-mantri-ujjwala-yojana.php (last visited on 24th May, 2017)
3. http://www.censusindia.gov.in/2011census/hlo/hlo_highlights.html (Houselisting and Housing Census Data Highlights, 2011) (last visited on 24th May, 2017)
4. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/oMwnyidgzZD5RWdR7WbCVI/Women-using-polluting-cooking-fuel-more-prone-to-cataract-s.html (last visited on 24th May, 2017)
5. http://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/indoor-air-pollution-kills-a-million-people-every-year-in-india/story-c5PMwIjBiTLeqSnkxIoysJ.html (last visited on 24th May, 2017)
(Writer is a practicing Advocate and a Research Associate at Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi)