Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Saturday launched the 'Pradhan Mantri LPG Panchayat' from Mota Ishanpur village here today and handed over free LPG connection to a beneficiary of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.
Addressing the public, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister said his government has so far provided LPG connection to 8.5 crore households in less than three years as against 14 crore connections provided by the Congress government.
Pradhan said LPG connection has empowered women and saved lives of lakhs of women who die due to health complications arising out of use of traditional means of fuel like wood.
In the presence of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Pradhan handed over free LPG connection to the beneficiary of PMUY Kokilaben Parmar. She happens to be the third crore beneficiary under the scheme.
Taking a swipe at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for asking what his government did for the poor, Pradhan later told mediapersons that his ministry provided three crore LPG connections to the poor including the tribals and Dalits.
"Those who have cheated the people of this country, and have been shown the door by the people, are shedding crocodile tears for the poor. People will give them befitting reply in the next election," he said.
He said Pradhan Mantri LPG Panchayat will aim at spreading awareness among the LPG users about how to properly use the clean fuel and its many benefits.
"One lakh LPG Panchayat (to be held across the country) will deal with the issue of safe use of LPG as well as its various benefits, like environment, health, and how it empowers women," he said.
Pradhan said that 40 per cent of Ujjwala Yojana beneficiaries in Gujarat are tribals and Dalits. He said his ministry has also increased LPG distribution centres, with 106 new distribution centres added in the last one and half years in Gujarat alone.
"We are working on setting up 319 new distribution centres, which will provide employment to 5,000 people," he said.
LPG Panchayat will serve as an interactive platform between those who received LPG cylinders under PMUY, officials, LPG distributors and NGOs.
In one panchayat, around 100 LPG customers of nearby areas will share their experiences with each others. They can also share their problems and suggestions.
The panchayats will also include safe practices, quality of service provided by distributors and availability of refill cylinders.