This clean cooking fuel plan needs more firing up

News: LPG Penetration in India has reached a significant level, but there is still need for some adaptations so that this momentum for clean fuel is maintained.  

What is the status of adoption of clean fuel in India?

Around eight crore customers were enlisted in late 2019 for LPG connections. 

Previously, there were hundreds of villages where there was not a single LPG connection, but they now have a noticeable presence of LPG users and distributors. 

This all has become possible due to the successful implementation of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)

How Ujjwala has delivered such positive results? 

Successful implementation of the Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG (DBTL) or PAHAL (Pratyaksh Hanstantrit Labh) scheme of 2014 freed up the financial resources needed to make large-scale programme for deposit-free LPG connections a reality.  

Production of cylinders, pressure regulators, hose and affordable LPG stoves was enhanced. 

New distributors/dealers were appointed to reach remote pockets. 

Political representatives helped to sustain enthusiasm for Ujjwala, and ensure its implementation on ground. 

What are the environmental and health benefits of clean fuel? 

Adoption of LPG/Clean fuel by pregnant women is said to give huge health gains in future. 

LPG is not a greenhouse gas (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and assigned with a global warming potential (GWP) factor of zero.  

What are the challenges in furthering the cause of clean fuel in India?

In rural areas people use multiple types of cooking stoves – LPG, fuelwood, induction or electric heater, etc to lower their dependency on any single source. 

According to the recently released National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5, there was a higher prevalence of TB in households that were using solid fuels when compared to those using clean cooking fuels in most States. 

Pandemic has resulted in LPG prices having gone up and governmental support focusing on other challenges. 

What is the way forward?

Need for a sustainable basket: Overall, the push has to be such that every household moves toward adopting a more sustainable cooking energy basket. 

Solar, electric heater, improved biomass chulha and biogas can be part of this as they also have similar health and environmental benefits as LPG. This can be done by introducing alternative remunerative uses for cow dung and bio mass. 

Chhattisgarh has introduced a scheme on procurement of cow dung. 

Further Improvements in demand-supply chain of LPG with options for refill financing for poor households.  

Women’s incomes can be given a boost through the National Rural Livelihoods Mission which can nudge them to choose a more sustainable cooking mix. 

Source: This post is based on the article “This clean cooking fuel plan needs more firing up” published in The Hindu on 24th Dec 2021. 

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