Context: As per a report of the Parliamentary committee on Petroleum, only three States and five Union Territories have become kerosene free given the target of eight crore LPG connections under PM Ujjwala Yojana was completed last september.
PM Ujjwala Yojana
It is a scheme of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas for providing LPG connections to women from Below Poverty Line (BPL) households.
What was the need of the Scheme ?
- Serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuels.
- According to WHO estimates, about 5 lakh deaths in India alone due to unclean cooking fuels like kerosene,coal etc. leading to Indoor air pollution.
Aims and Objectives
- Ensure universal coverage of cooking gas in the country.
- Empower women and protect their health.
- It also helps the poor from venturing into unsafe areas to collect firewood.
- Employment for rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas.
- Under the scheme, an adult woman belonging to a poor family not having LPG connection in her household, is an eligible beneficiary under the expanded scheme.
- Initially, the Government covered the following categories under the Scheme
Beneficiaries listed in the SECC 2011 list
- All SC/STs households beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana(PMAY) (Gramin)
- Antyoday Anna Yojana (AAY)
- Forest dwellers
- Most Backward Classes (MBC)
- Tea & Ex-Tea Garden Tribes
- People residing in Islands
- People residing in river islands.
Benefits to the citizens
- Under the scheme, five crore LPG connections are to be provided to BPL households.
- The Scheme provides a financial support of Rs 1600 for each LPG connection to the BPL households, interest free loan to purchase stove and refill by Oil Marketing Companies.
- The administrative cost of Rs. 1600 per connection, which includes a cylinder, pressure regulator, booklet, safety hose, etc. would be borne by the Government.
- It points to the gap between the continuing use of kerosene and the claim of 97% LPG coverage nationwide.
- The government claimed that it has met the target in September, 2019 with 96.9% coverage nationwide, except in Jammu and Kashmir.
- The committee was not in sync with the decision of the closure of the scheme, and said there was still a lot of ground to cover.
- It was of the view that the poor households in the general category in urban and semi urban localities need to be covered too.
- It also expressed concern over large segments of people in various States still depended on kerosene for cooking and household lighting.
Earlier reports of Performance Audit by CAG
- It raised concern over low consumption of refills, diversions and considerable delays in supply of cylinders.
- It revealed that encouraging people about the sustained usage of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) remains a big challenge.
- Audit also brought to notice that out of 3.78 crore LPG connections, 1.60 crore (42 per cent) connections were issued only on the basis of beneficiary Aadhaar which remained a deterrent in de-duplication.
- Audit observed that due to lack of input validation check in Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) software, 1.88 lakh connections were released in the name of males as opposed to the female head of the family."
- The report also drew attention to departure from safety norms by the LPG distributors, unsafe LPG practices by the scheme’s beneficiaries and inadequacy in providing affordable 5 kg cylinders.
- Risk of diversion of domestic cylinders for commercial use as it was violation of “One product One price Principle”.
- Parliamentary Panel
- It recommends the scheme to achieve a higher percentage of LPG coverage.
- It seeks to extend the scheme to cover the poor households in urban and semi urban slum areas.
- It recommended the scrutiny of the entire LPG database to identify and restrict anomalies.
- Entering Aadhaar numbers of all adult family members of existing as well as new beneficiaries to make deduplication effective .
- Appropriate measures to be undertaken in distributors software to restrict issuance to ineligible beneficiaries.
- Economic Survey
- The Economic Survey of 2018-19 had suggested a strategy tweak for improving the scheme’s efficacy by maintaining a centralized list of names of those who had given up their subsidies, independent of the gas company, and displaying their photographs.
Image Source: The Hindu