Finding a healthy way to cook

Source: The Hindu

Relevance: To understand the issue of Environment and misery of women

Synopsis: This article highlights the problem of women using firewood based stoves/ chulhas in many poor households.


There is a need to introduce more alternative sources of energy rather than providing free LPG connections

Ill Effects of Chulhas
  • It affects the health negatively
  • This leads to indoor pollution because of the release of toxic gases like carbon monoxide & carbon dioxide
  • It also has a negative effect on the environment
Read more: Burning wood, coal for cooking can cause blindness: Study

What efforts have been made by the Government?

To get rid of this problem, the government, in the 1980s, introduced smokeless or fuel-efficient chulhas for cooking.

  1. National Programme on improved Chulhas: The government launched this scheme in 1984. But this programme did not attain its objective because of the following limitations:
    • Losing interest of government & withdrawal of subsidies
    • Less participation of people to use these chulhas
    • Beneficiaries were not properly targeted
    • Little quality control
  2. Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) under PAHAL scheme:
    • The government introduced this scheme in 2013.
    • Its aim was to alleviate the public health burden posed by household air pollution on women.
  3. LPG under PM Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY): It was launched in 2016 & aims to provide universal access to LPG by 2025.
    • Under the scheme, an adult woman member of a below poverty line family was given a deposit-free LPG connection with the financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection by the Centre.
  4. Ujjwala 2.0:
    • Under this, the government announced the target of an additional one crore LPG connection.
    • It aims to provide deposit-free LPG connections to those low-income families who could not be covered under earlier PMUY.
    • Under this scheme, migrants will not require to submit a ration card or address proof.
Problems with the existing scheme

According to studies, it was found that many LPG connection holders were still using other fuels like fuelwood or dung cakes. The main reasons behind that are:

  • Many people got the connection but were unable to refill because of economic reasons.
  • More use of cow dung and other similar fuels because of their easy availability and also at free of cost.
  • Generally, a low value is attached to women’s time in production, as the opportunity cost of women’s labour is low.
    • LPG is used for cooking when the opportunity cost of women labour is high, such as peak season in farming.
  • Administrative constraints such as distance to LPG distribution centres, long waiting time, the rising cost of LPG cylinders etc
Way Forward

Women need a better source of cooking, but LPG connections work only for non-poor households. Women in India can achieve energy security for cooking only through cheaper & efficient alternatives.

  • As one solution may not fit all, there is a need to offer a set of energy resources to households so that each of them finds suitable energy for itself.
  • The government should introduce affordable alternatives such as solar cookers, biogas plants, smokeless chulhas etc for the poor households
  • The public & Private sector needs to be encouraged to research & development to explore these alternatives

Terms to know

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