The Narendra Modi government’s free LPG scheme for below poverty line (BPL) women seems to have achieved its objective of addressing health hazards posed to millions by polluting cooking fuels. Thanks mainly to the 2.2 crore new LPG connections issued under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) launched in May last year, households using this less-polluting fuel for cooking increased 20.3% to about 20 crore in 2016-17 from the previous year.
As per the reports, the PMUY scheme has been a big success. Though the original goal was to provide 5crore LPG connections in three years with an allocation of Rs 8,000crore, the target is likely to be increased. Several economists and agencies have long pointed out the huge economic costs of polluting cooking fuels like wood, coal, cow dung and kerosene.
The PMUY decreasing the dependence on kerosene is evident across states. The states that received maximum LPG connections under the scheme — Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan — have also witnessed the maximum decline in allocation of kerosene.
In the current financial year, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana and Punjab had zero kerosene allocations. The Modi government has issued around 6.97 crore LPG connections since it assumed office, of which 2.2 crore have been under PMUY. Between 2014-15 and 2016-17, the number of LPG distributors across the country has gone up from 13,981 to 18,786.