The irony of India is that the people have limited access to basic necessities, such as clean drinking water and cooking gas (LPG). The use of LPG cylinders is restricted to the middle class and affluent households in urban and semi-urban regions. Majority of people residing in villages are reliant on fossil fuels for cooking. Sadly, the people are unaware that firewood and cow dung contributes to indoor air pollution, acute respiratory diseases and forest fires. The smoke generated by firewood is comparable to burning 400 cigarettes in an hour.
Moreover, in a recent report published by the WHO states that about 5 lakh deaths occur in India every year due to unclean cooking practices. Most of these premature deaths result from heart diseases, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and stroke. The number of deaths in rural regions was constantly increasing at an alarming rate.
To prevent this from causing further damage, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his ambitious social welfare scheme ‘Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana’. It aims to provide BPL (Below Poverty Line) households with free LPG connections. The idea is to generate awareness, replace traditional fuels and inculcate clean cooking habits. It indirectly contributes to wood conservation, as well.
When the scheme was rolled out in May 2016, the Centre planned to provide 1.5 crore free gas cylinders to poor families. A total budget of Rs 2000 crores was allotted for 2016-2017.
Rajasthan Government Grants Free Gas Connection under PMUY
This Friday, the Rajasthan government granted 14.61 lakh free gas connections to BPL households covering most of the regions in Rajasthan including:
- Alwar (67,386)
- Barmer (90,062)
- Bhilwara (683,03)
- Nagaur (67,647)
- Udaipur (95,310)
This information was revealed by State level coordinator of oil industry, Sunil Mathur. According to Mathur, the government has granted around 1.07 crore families with a free gas connection under this scheme.
When the scheme was first launched in Rajasthan, only 63% family used gas cylinders. In just 8 months, the percentage increased to 75%. The beneficiaries for this scheme were selected by the government on the basis of Socio Economic Caste Census done in 2011.
Hopefully, this step will not just improve air quality, but also inculcate hygienic cooking habits in poor families.