Narendra Modi aims to offer 8 million more cooking gas connections in the first 100 days of his second term-- and follow it up with smaller cylinders to encourage refills

The Indian Prime Minister wants to expand the programme to cover 8 million more households in the first 100 days of his second term./ Source:Wikimedia Commons
  • The Ujjwala scheme which provides free cooking gas connections to poor Indian homes has been a big vote gatherer for Narendra Modi.
  • The Indian Prime Minister wants to expand the programme to cover 8 million more households in the first 100 days of his second term.
  • So far, 72 million households in India have received free cooking gas connections from the government under the subsidy programme launched 3 years ago.
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The Ujjwala scheme, which provides free cooking gas connections to poor Indian homes, has been a big vote gatherer for Narendra Modi. The Indian Prime Minister wants to expand the programme to cover 8 million more households in the first 100 days of his second term.

The scheme, which targets female members of below poverty line families that used conventional coal as cooking fuel, was launched on May 1, 2016 and has covered 72 million homes. The original target was 80 million, which the government wants to cover in the first 100 days.

In addition, another 10-20 million new LPG connections would be given in subsequent months to cover all poor households as part of a Cabinet decision taken late last year, the IANS reported.

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There are about 5-6% of India's household which still do not have access to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for cooking, according to government data.

The flip side

While this move from the government has been lauded by many as a transformational step, it has also been criticised as just half a step.

Poor people may have received a free connection and escaped the deadly pollution from the coal used for cooking earlier, the subsequent refills of LPG cylinders have proven too costly. And that may be the focus in the next phase of this programme-- ensuring that people do get a refill and do not go back to coal.
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The government is also toying with the idea of providing smaller LPG gas cylinders weighing about five kilogrmas (kg) compared to the current one which is 14.2 kg, according to a news agency. This may bring down the cost of refill as well as the burden on the exchequer if the government decides to cover the cost and transfer the money under the direct benefit transfer scheme.

Currently, every LPG cylinder costs anywhere between ₹600 and ₹650 in the metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata. After the subsidy under Ujjwala scheme, the cost comes down to a little less than ₹500 per cylinder. The subsidy is transfered directly to the eligible beneficiaries' bank accounts.

The money
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Under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), gas connections are provided to BPL families with a support of ₹1,600 for each connection. The LPG connection is provided in the name of the female member of the family.

A sum of ₹8,000 crore was allocated for the scheme to start with but was later expanded to ₹4,800 crore as the target homes increased from 50 million to 80 million. In December, the Union Cabinet also decided to cover all poor households under the scheme that would further increase the number of new connections by 10-20 million.

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