PM Narendra Modi’s flagship fuel scheme ‘Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana’ was launched in May last year. The scheme aims at providing 5 crore LPG connections to women belonging to the BPL (Below Poverty Line) families in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Rajasthan and Orissa. A list of recipients for this scheme was prepared as per the data collected in the Socioeconomic Caste Census of 2011. A budget of Rs 8000 crores was allotted for this purpose. The major pilots for this scheme are HPCL, BPCL and IOCL that offered 2.5 crore gas connections all over India. After implementing this scheme in major Indian states, the government will pitch it in north-eastern states.
For those who don’t know, the scheme aims at bearing 50% cost of the LPG connection kit. The total cost of an LPG connection, including safety hoses, refilled cylinders and stove is Rs 3,100. The government provides one-time aid of Rs 1,600 per connection to the beneficiaries. The remaining amount is paid by beneficiaries upfront. If the recipients can’t afford it, they can opt for a temporary loan. The loan amount is recovered on subsequent cylinder refills. The beneficiary can repay the amount after 10 refills.
As per the sources, the average LPG refill rate is 7.6 per year. The recipients request a new cylinder after a period of 45 days. Around 80% beneficiaries come back for refilling cylinders at regular intervals. However, the rate varies across the states. The refill rate was quite high in UP and Bihar. Other states including Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan have low refill rates. Easy availability of firewood in these areas is a major reason it. In a bid to minimize exploitation of trees for firewood, Rajasthan government offered free LPG connections to villagers residing near the forests and national parks.
In 2 years, the government offered 14.61 lakh free cooking gas connections to BPL households. Earlier, the number of connections in Rajasthan was 62%. After the scheme was launched on May 15, 2016, the number of gas connections boosted to 75%. The state allotted a budget of Rs 2000 crores for this scheme. Further, the authorities aim to provide 1 lakh gas connections to the farmer in the upcoming budget year.
Thus, all BPL families that were dependent on firewood earlier now enjoy the benefits of a gas connection.