Free LPG Ujjwala Scheme Achieves Eight Crore Target Before Schedule
A liquefied petroleum gas cylinder stands connected to a stove in a village near Modinagar, Uttar Pradesh, India. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

Free LPG Ujjwala Scheme Achieves Eight Crore Target Before Schedule

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The government will achieve the target of giving eight crore free cooking gas (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to the poor nearly seven months ahead of schedule.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will handover final target connection on Saturday.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was launched on May 1, 2016, with a target to give five crore connections to women members of poor households by March 2019. The target was later raised to eight crore connections by March 2020.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be handing over the eight croreth connection under PMUY at an event which will be organised in Sendra, Aurangabad, Maharashtra on Sept. 7," an official statement said.

The scheme, together with the government's push to replace polluting firewood in kitchens, has led to LPG coverage rising to about 95 percent of the population from 55 percent in May 2014.

Under PMUY, the government provides a subsidy of Rs 1,600 to state-owned fuel retailers for every free LPG gas connection that they give to poor households. This subsidy is intended to cover the security fee for the cylinder and the fitting charges.

The beneficiary has to buy her own cooking stove. To reduce the burden, the scheme allows beneficiaries to pay for the stove and the first refill in monthly installments. However, the cost of all subsequent refills has to be borne by the beneficiary household.

To reduce financial burden on poor households, the government has given an option to them to purchase a five-kg bottle or the regular 14.2-kg cylinder.

"The Scheme aims to provide clean cooking fuel to poor households and replace the unhealthy conventional cooking fuels such as firewood, cowdung, etc. The use of LPG has its benefits on the health of women and children, environment and economic productivity of women," the statement said.

Three state owned oil marketing companies -- Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. -- "implemented the scheme in all the States/Union Territories of the country in a mission mode and achieved the target of eight crore connections, seven months ahead of the timelines set (March 2020)," it said.

The states of Uttar Pradesh (1.46 crore), West Bengal (88 lakh), Bihar (85 lakh), Madhya Pradesh (71 lakh) and Rajasthan (63 lakh) have topped the list with highest number of beneficiaries under PMUY.

Nearly 40 percent of the beneficiaries belong to Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes categories.

In December 2018, the government extended PMUY to all poor households. The scheme originally targeted giving free LPG connections to mostly rural women members of below the poverty line households. The list was later expanded to include all SC/ST households, forest dwellers, most backward classes, inhabitants of islands, nomadic tribes and tea estates, among others.

This will further increase penetration of LPG to 100 percent households.

"The implementation of PMUY has earned domestic as well as global appreciation at various forums," the statement said.

The World Health Organisation hailed PMUY as a decisive intervention by the government to facilitate the switch to clean household energy use, thereby addressing the problems associated with indoor household pollution.

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