[Answered] “Using cleaner fuels such as LPG is essential to reduce rural air pollution and improve health.” In light of this discuss what can policymakers do to achieve exclusive use of clean fuels in rural India?

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Benefits of LPG over traditional fuels. What policymakers should do? Conclusion. Way forward.

Developing countries like India are confronting the vulnerabilities associated with the climate change on one hand and the challenges of development and poverty alleviation on the other, which are closely associated with providing energy access to the energy poor in the country. As per the National Sample Survey 68th round, the dominant fuel used in rural India still consists of firewood, with around two thirds of the households still dependent on them.

Benefits of LPG over traditional fuel:

  1. Health-related benefits, including improved quality of life as a result of less human suffering, reduced health-related expenditure as a result of less illness and the value of productivity gains resulting from less illness and fewer deaths.
  2. Time savings from reduced drudgery from collecting and preparing biomass for use, usually by women and children and from more efficient and rapid cooking and heating, increasing the time available for other social and economic activities.
  3. Fuel savings from using a more efficient stove.
  4. The avoided economic cost of environmental degradation caused by the use of solid fuels, including reduced deforestation and increased agricultural productivity where agricultural residues and dung are used as fertiliser rather than fuel, as well as reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and black carbon.
  5. Other less tangible benefits, such as increased personal esteem, prestige and comfort levels that result from a cleaner, tidier and more modern home environment.
  6. LPG does not produce harmful pollutants, such as sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxide, like traditional fuels. It has 50% fewer carbon emissions than coal and 20% fewer than oil.

What policymakers should do?

  1. Awareness campaign: Policymakers should communicate the harms of solid fuels and the benefits of cleaner fuels. A large campaign communicating that solid fuels harm respiratory health may change these beliefs. Further currently, governments are providing assistance to poor households through free LPG connections, which takes away the startup cost, but households are unaware of such schemes. There is an urgent need to devise an awareness campaign for the consumers focusing on how poor customers can benefit from of such schemes.
  2. Ease of registration: A set of guidelines should be given to the LPG distributors to ease new customer registration, especially for poor customers.
  3. Grievance redressal: A toll-free grievance number should be set up and advertised well.
  4. Instalment schemes:  Monthly instalment facilities should be made available for a household that has difficulties arranging for one-time lump sum payments towards startup cost.
  5. Reducing prices: Reducing the cost of LPG cylinder refills in rural areas, where residents are poorer and solid fuels are easier to access, would help.
  6. Gender equality: Promoting gender equality within households, particularly in cooking and related task is needed. public policy must recognise that in households, if men would do his share of the cooking, a complete transition to LPG would happen. Current Ujjwala scheme, focuses on the benefits of clean fuels for women, reinforces inequality. Advertisements showing that gas is so good that even men can cook with it will challenge both misinformation on LPG and gender inequalities in household tasks.
  7. Female literacy: Female literacy is an important determinant of the use of cleaner cooking fuels. Female education is a huge challenge and females have usually lower access to education facilities. Therefore, education among females should be strongly promoted.

LPG is cleaner fuel and is more efficient. In tackling the climate change issue and providing fuel security, it is important to promote use of LPG which would be good for health of the women as well as for the environment.

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