Context

  • Government aims at making 9 crore ‘deprived’ households the focus of all its welfare schemes

 What is the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana?

  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) is a welfare program of the government of India, launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016.
  • The stated objective of the program is providing 50,000,000 LPG connections to women from families below the poverty line.
  • Under the PM Ujjwala Yojana, the government aims to provide LPG connections to BPL households in the country.
  • The scheme is aimed at replacing the unclean cooking fuels mostly used in the rural India with the clean and more efficient LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas).

What is the purpose and necessity of this scheme?

  • Ujjwala Yojana is aimed at providing 5 Crore LPG connections in the name of women in BPL (Below Poverty Line) households across the country.
  • The government has set a target of 5 Crore LPG connections to be distributed to the BPL households across the country under the scheme.

What are the objectives of this scheme?

  • Empowering women and protecting their health.
  • Reducing the serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuel.
  • Reducing the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel.
  • Preventing young children from significant number of acute respiratory illnesses caused due to indoor air pollution by burning the fossil fuel.

What is the duration of this scheme?

  • The Scheme was implemented over three years, namely, the FY 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 across the country

What are the factors that made this scheme successful?

From undeserving to deserving

  • Ujjwala is the classic example of transferring subsidies from the undeserving to the truly deserving; over a period of time, especially as global crude prices start rising, the income criterion will have to be lowered further as it still covers large sections that are too rich to get the subsidy.
  • To begin with, LPG distributors were asked to eliminate duplicate accounts; after which, through a high-pitched #GiveItUp campaign led by the prime minister, over 1.5 crore families were encouraged to give up their subsidies.

Piped natural gas grids

  • Piped natural gas grids uses natural gas it is cheaper than LPG which is derived from crude oil.
  • This was then followed up with income ceilings, beyond which households were denied subsidies.
  • Just getting rid of 3.34 crore fake/duplicate customers allowed the government to save over `21,000 crore over FY15 and FY16.

What is socio economic caste census?

  • The Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 (SECC) was conducted for the 2011 Census of India
  • SECC 2011 is also the first paperless census in India conducted on hand-held electronic devices by the government in 640 districts
  • The SECC 2011 was conducted in all states and union terriotories of India and the first findings were revealed on 3 July 2015 by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
  • The rural development ministry has taken a decision to use the SECC data in all its programmes such as MGNREGA, National Food Security Act, and the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana.

How Socio Economic Caste Census helped in its success?

Accurate data

  • The Ujjwala scheme owes much of its success to the data provided by the Socio Economic Caste Census 2011 or SECC that helped the Petroleum Ministry
  • The SECC data identifies nearly 9 crore households as “deprived’’ as per the different deprivation indicators used for the Census.
  • Not discriminatory
  • The SECC data is agnostic to one’s caste, religion or community.
  • Social activists say the data from SECC is more reliable making it more easier to access.

How has the data from SECC helped the government in various schemes for poor?

  • The Ministry has already started using the SECC data to give direct financial assistance to build low-cost houses to the poor under the PM Awas Yojana, electricity connection under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Power Scheme, build toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission and prepare Labour Budgets under the Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

What more challenges are there in adoption of LPG instead of uncleaned fuels?

Widening gap

  • One such challenge is the high monthly expenditure incurred which 88 per cent of LPG-deprived households in the survey cited as a barrier.
  • National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data from the past also highlight the low expenditure capacity of poorer households in having access to LPG.
  • The high recurring cost is not only a problem of purchasing capacity but also a perception and cash-flow issue

Limited LPG distribution

  • Limited LPG distribution networks in rural areas also need simultaneous attention to cover five crore households in the next three years.
  • The government and oil marketing companies have already established at least one LPG distributor in each block. But much additional work needs to be done.

What are the other schemes available to promote LPG?

PAHAL DBTL Scheme

  • The DBTL scheme was first launched in June 2013 with a mandatory requirement of Aadhaar card to avail benefits. However, the scheme was later reviewed to take in to account the difficulties borne by consumers and re-launched in 2014.
  • The modified PAHAL scheme has two options for consumers to receive subsidy. Once the consumer joins the scheme, he/she is referred to as the Cash Transfer Compliant (CTC).

Opt Out of Subsidy (Give It Up) Scheme

  • LPG is a highly subsidized commodity in India with subsidies being as high as Rs. 40,000 crore in FY 2014-15, contributing to a gigantic subsidy burden on the government. To this effect, the ‘Opt Out’ or ‘Give It Up’ Campaign has been launched to encourage LPG consumers who can afford to pay the market price of LPG to voluntarily surrender their subsidy.

Rajiv Gandhi Gramin LPG Vitaran Yojana(RGGVY)

  • Started in 2009 with a focus on rural households and areas with low LPG coverage, the aim of the scheme was to start small size LPG distributor agencies.
  • It provides one-time financial assistance to BPL households.
  • CSR Scheme for Release of Connection to BPL Families:
  • BPL families can avail new LPG connections without paying the security deposit of one cylinder and one pressure regulator through the CSR scheme under RGGVY.
  • With existing schemes focused on creation of more distributor agencies, the current focus of the Government has been to address the deficiency in the coverage of LPG for domestic use, especially in rural areas and poor households.

Suggestions/ way ahead

  • The Prime Minister Ujjwala Yojana was released on March 2016 and the specific details and its effects on existing schemes are not yet clear.
  • The implementation of the direct transfer of cash benefits in the last few years has already helped in the better targeting of subsidies to the poor, thus substantially reducing wasteful spending.
  • The foremost aim should be to sustainably lower the price of cooking gas once and for all, getting the government out of the business of managing subsidies.

 

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