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Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna (PMUY) – An Analysis

Context:

Recently the Pradhan Mantri  Ujjwala Yojna (PMUY) completed two years of operation

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna

  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna is a scheme of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas for providing LPG connections to women from Below Poverty Line (BPL) households.
  • It was launched in May 2016 in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh

Key features:

  • Aim: To replace unclean cooking fuels used in the most underprivileged households with clean and more efficient LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas)
  • Families below the poverty line are to be provided with LPG connections with a support of Rs. 1,600 per connection.
  • Oil Marketing Companies would provide an option for the new consumer to opt for loan to cover the cost of a cooking stove and first refill.
  • The LPG connections will be issued in the name of the women of the households.

Target:

  • Initially the target was installation of 5 crore new LPG connections by 2019
  • Target revised to 8 crore- to be achieved by 2019-20

Beneficiaries:

  • BPL households identified through Socio-Economic Caste Census data
  • All SC/STs households beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana(PMAY) (Gramin)
  • Beneficiaries of Antyoday Anna Yojana (AAY)
  • Forest dwellers
  • Most Backward Classes (MBC)
  • Tea & Ex-Tea Garden Tribes
  • People residing in Islands
  • People residing in river island
LPG Panchayats:

  • LPG Panchayat serves as platform for interaction between those who received LPG cylinders under PMUY.
  • It aims to raise awareness among LPG users about proper use of clean fuel and its advantages

Need for the Scheme:

  1. To ensure universal access:
  • Poor households have limited access to cooking gas (LPG).
  • The use of LPG has been mainly concentrated in urban and semi-urban areas with the coverage mostly in middle class and affluent households.
  • The lack of access to affordable cooking gas has led to use of unclean cooking fuels such as cow dung, wood, low quality coal, etc
  1. Reduce environmental pollution:
  • Household air pollution also leads to outdoor air pollution
  • Solid cooking fuel emits large amount of green-house gases in the atmosphere
  1. Eliminate health hazards:
  • According to WHO report, in India, nearly 5 lakh deaths in a year are caused by unclean cooking fuels.
  • Large number of people suffers from a range of respiratory illness.
  • The household air pollution is responsible for a significant number of respiratory illness among the children
  • Providing clean cooking fuels to all can is a cost-effective health intervention
  1. Empowering Women:
  • Collection and use of fuels for cooking impacts the time use of women and increase drudgery
  • Thus, providing affordable cooking gas will help in reducing the drudgery and empower women.

Status of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna

  • Number of LPG connections across India has increased by 16.26% since May 2016. More than 70% of the target of five crore connections has been achieved. Later, in May 2018, the target has been revised to 8 crore households
  • 60% of the new LPG domestic connections given across India in 2016-17 were PMUY connections
  • Uttar Pradesh reported highest number of connections under PMUY (7.3 million-18% of all connections), followed by West Bengal (5.3 million) and Bihar (5.2 million).

Issues and Challenges:

  1. Affordability and Inactive gas cylinders:
  • Though the number of LPG connections has increased significantly, the consumption of LPG rose from 9% to 9.8% from 2015-16 to 2016-17. This is primarily because many people with new connection are not refilling their cylinders after the first use.
  • This is primarily because not only installing charges but refilling charges of LPG cylinders is considered to be very high. The scheme does not have provision of bearing the cost of the subsequent refills
  • Poor households thus consider solid cooking fuels as a cheaper option. According to a CRISIL Report, 2016 37% of households in rural areas procure cooking fuel for free.
  1. Issues with LPG distribution
  • The number of distributors is not at par with increasing number of LPG consumers.
  • From April 2016 and January 2018, the total number of distributors increased only by 9%
  • The long waiting time to get a refill for an empty LPG cylinder is a major impediment to LPG adoption
  1. Safety Issues: The Federation of LPG Distributors of India (FLDI) had raised various safety concerns-
  • More than 90 per cent of the households of the targeted beneficiaries do not meet the safety parameters required for installing an LPG connection
  • Further OMCs only provide insurance, but no mediclaim policy in case of any unfortunate incidents.
  1. Identification of Beneficiaries:
  • There have been concerns raised on identification of BPL households on the basis of SECC database. The concerns mainly surround the probable errors and reliability of the SECC data.
  • Further, concerns have been raised over probable pressures from the oil-marketing companies (OMCs) to meet and exceed targets. This might result in dilution in the process of beneficiary identification processes
  1. Low awareness:
  • A major issue is low awareness with regard to advantages of LPG as a cooking fuel. Further, the lack of familiarity in operating LPG gas stoves is another issue hindering LPG adoption
  1. Issues with data:
  • LPG connection data is available only at state-level and not at district-level. This makes assessment of the progress of the scheme difficult
  • Further, the data on rate of LPG consumption is not reported by all States in a regular basis. The available information depicts only average estimate for consumption for one year from the date of release of the connection.
  • Service quality related and safety related information is not available publicly.

Way Forward:

  1. There should be proper monitoring of PMUY and Information should be published at regular intervals. Data on service quality related and safety related issues should be assessed
  2. Since high recurring price associated with LPG remains a major challenge, subsidies should be provided to economically backward households for subsequent refills. The focus should not be on increasing number of connections but ensure sustained use of LPG
  3. The network of LPG distributors should be strengthened to ensure timely availability of LPG cylinders. Number of LPG distributors should be increased to reach rural consumers
  4. Further LPG distributors should be made accountable for timely distribution and ensuring safety. Consumer grievances handling systems should be constituted.
  5. Safety parameters required for installing LPG connections should be met before installation of LPG connections.
  6. Citizens should be aware on advantages of LPG use, operation of LPG gas stoves and on safety measures.
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