• The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the extension of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) for the release of 75 lakh LPG connections over three years from Financial Year 2023-24 to 2025-26.
• With the release of additional 75 lakh connections, the number of PMUY beneficiaries will go up to 10.35 crore.
• The total financial implication will be Rs 1,650 crore.
• A targeted subsidy of Rs 200 per 14.2 kg LPG cylinder for up to 12 refills per year is being provided to PMUY consumers.
• Last month, the government announced a Rs 200 per cylinder cut in prices of domestic cooking gas to soften the impact of rising inflation on households.
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
• Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was launched with an objective to provide LPG connections to 5 crore women belonging to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families over a period of three years starting from FY 2016-17.
• The scheme was launched on May 1, 2016 in Ballia district in Uttar Pradesh.
• Later, the government decided to increase the target from 5 crore to 8 crore to be achieved by FY 2019-20.
• It further extended the benefit of PMUY to such poor families who have been left out on account of their names not appearing in either the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) list or seven other identified categories such as Scheduled Caste (SC) Households, Scheduled Tribe (ST) Households, Most Backward Classes (MBC), beneficiaries of PM Awas Yojana (Gramin), beneficiaries of Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY), forest dwellers, island/river island people, tea garden/ex-tea garden workers and poor households.
• Under this scheme, the government provides deposit free LPG connection to the adult woman member of BPL family, which includes, security deposit towards cylinder and pressure regulator, Domestic Gas Consumer Card (DGCC Card), suraksha hose and administrative/installation charges. The government bears an expenditure up to Rs 1,600 for every new connection.
• The target of releasing 8 crore LPG connections under the PMUY scheme was achieved on September 7, 2019, seven months in advance of the target date of March 31, 2020.
• In the Union Budget for 2021-22, provision for an additional one crore LPG connection under the scheme was announced.
• Accordingly, the Ujjwala 2.0 was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mahoba district of Uttar Pradesh on August 10, 2021 to provide additional one crore LPG connections along with free first refill and stove.
• Special provision has been made for migrant families to avail new connections using self declaration as proof of address and family declaration under Ujjwala 2.0.
• The target of one crore additional PMUY connections was achieved in January 2022. Subsequently, the government decided to release 60 lakh more LPG connections and that target was achieved in December 2022.
• As on July 1, 2023, there are about 9.59 crore PMUY beneficiaries.
• PMUY has majorly contributed to the increase in LPG penetration in the country from 62 per cent in 2016 to near saturation now.
Significance of this scheme
• The use of LPG cylinders has been predominantly in urban and semi-urban areas with the coverage mostly in middle-class and affluent households.
• The availability of clean cooking fuel is a major challenge for rural households. This deprivation is predominantly suffered by women and children as they are the most exposed to harmful effects of smoke from burning unclean fuels in the households.
• According to WHO estimates, India records about 5 lakh deaths due to unclean cooking fuels. Most of these premature deaths were due to non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.
• Indoor air pollution is also responsible for a significant number of acute respiratory illnesses in young children. According to experts, having an open fire in the kitchen is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour.
• Providing LPG connections to BPL households will ensure universal coverage of cooking gas in the country. This measure will empower women and protect their health. It will reduce drudgery and the time spent on cooking. It will also provide employment for rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas.