LPG reforms and Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana
It is about Liquefied Petroleum Gas reform.
Why this reform is required?
- About 75 crore Indians, especially women and girls, are exposed to severe household air pollution (HAP) from the use of solid fuels such as biomass, dung cakes and coal for cooking.
- According to health experts, the smoke released in the burning process contains hazardous gases like carbon monoxide, particulate matter, etc. Unclean cooking fuels are the main source of indoor air pollution that causes non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.
- Generally, poor women are victims of these toxic gases. They have no alternative and thus they are forced to use them.
- Moreover it also has adverse environment impact.
Steps by government
To tackle this government came with a scheme “Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana (PMUY)”.
- Under this scheme Financial support of 1600 rupees for each LPG connection will be provided to the BPL households and the beneficiary would be identified in consultation with the state government and UT’s.
- It will be the first welfare scheme implemented by Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
Issues associated with Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana:
Cost and distribution
First, its cost should be made affordable as with current subsidy also a BPL family has to spent Rs.5000 per year in addition to one time cost of Rs.1800 for the connection.
The PMUY has proposed payment in installments for stoves and cylinders to address this challenge.
Moreover according to expert the government might consider increasing subsidy for first few cylinders brought in a year by BPL family as there would be less burden on exchequer because of the success of “Give it up” campaign and exclusion of persons earning above 10 lakhs.
- Second, the distribution system needs to be strengthened to meet the rise in demand. Otherwise people will start using unclean fuel if supply is not reliable. Also implementation of direct benefit transfer schemes must be made more robust.
Moreover along with effective monitoring and grievance redressal systems the scheme should be accompanied by a focussed public relations campaign, similar to the national tuberculosis or Swachh Bharat campaigns, to build awareness and create a “demand pull”, not only for clean cooking but also for good service.
Also there is a need to widen the PMUY umbrella for two reasons:
- Inclusion and exclusion errors in BPL lists
- BPL is a narrow definition of deprivation and many non-BPL households not able to afford LPG connections.
- Wider umbrella should include all households except those who have certain assets.
- The PMUY seeks to empowering women and protecting their health by shifting them from traditional cooking based on unclean cooking fuels or on fossil fuels that have serious health hazards to clean cooking gas. But it will result in truly smokeless kitchens only if the government follows up with measures that go beyond connections to actual usage of LPG.
Moreover this may require concerted efforts cutting across Ministries beyond petroleum and natural gas and including those of health, rural development and women and child welfare.