Recalibrating India’s clean cooking strategy

Source– The post is based on the article “Recalibrating India’s clean cooking strategy” published in “The Hindu” on 1st August 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Infrastructure: Energy

Relevance: Issues related to cooking fuels

News- The article explains the issues related to LPG adoption in India and need for alternate clean cooking fuels.

What are efforts by the central government to improve LPG adoption in poorer and rural households?

The Grameen Vitrak Yojana was launched in 2009. With its help, the rural distributor base has grown from 18% to 60% of the total LPG distributor base today.

The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana has provided more than 9.5 crore new households with LPG connections since 2016.

What are issues with LPG adoption in India?

LPG consumption saw an absolute reduction in FY23 after years of steady growth.

As per Council on Energy, Environment and Water data, the share of Indian households using LPG as the primary cooking fuel had risen to 71% in 2020 from 33% in 2011.

However, COVID­19 pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting volatility in crude and product prices on the other, have impacted universal use of LPG in Indian households.

In 2020, subsidy for LPG consumption was withdrawn for all consumers. Average refill rates for active non­-PMUY consumers are in slow decline. 40% of PMUY consumers get two or less refills in a year now.

India’s dependence on imported LPG has steadily increased to over 64% in FY23 .

Way forward-

India’s clean cooking policy must adopt clean­ cooking technologies. LPG­ only strategy needs  a relook. Electric cooking, including induction cooktops, can be adopted.

Rural households have the potential to switch some of their cooking requirements to electricity. According to a study conducted by CEEW, cooking with electricity remains more cost-effective than using LPG even at a high tariff of ₹8 per unit of electricity.

In urban areas, around 10% of households already employ electric appliances for their cooking needs. They can set an example for the larger transition in rural regions.

One possible approach is gradually increasing LPG prices beyond a certain threshold. This strategy could displace LPG in higher consumption groups. It will create a demand for new e-cooking technologies and models, and trigger a domino effect of adoption.

The initial demand from t could drive the growth of the domestic manufacturing ecosystem for e-cooking technologies.

To support this transition, targeted assistance should be provided to manufacturers. They can be encouraged to focus on efficiency and design catering to the needs of Indian households.

There is a requirement for financial support and business strategies that recognize the significance of India’s clean cooking shift by taking into account its positive impact on climate and air quality.

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