After reaching out to 33.1 million families covering 712 districts across the country, the Narendra Modi’s flagship programme Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) is finally becoming gender neutral. The scheme that offers free cooking gas connections to only women in the below poverty line (BPL) families is now set to factor in men as well. “We are now planning to include men in the socio-economic caste census (SECC) list too under PMUY. There are BPL families where there are no women or women are not in a movable state due to health reasons. In such cases, we are looking to extend PMUY to the men folks as well,” said an official close to the development. The scheme, conceptualized by petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan, kicked off on May 1, 2016 at Ballia district in Uttar Pradesh. The plan is to provide 50 million gas connections in three years to below poverty line families, for which the government has allocated Rs 80 billion as budgetary support. The government support comes to the tune of Rs 1600 to each family.
The ministry of petroleum and natural gas is set to approach the Cabinet soon to increase the bandwidth of the programme to 80 million with an additional budgetary support of Rs 48 billion.Sources indicate that nearly 80 per cent of the Ujjwala consumers come back to the oil marketing companies for a second refill, while 45 per cent take three or more refills in a year. In order to maintain regular connection with the new consumers to sensitise them about the benefits of using LPG, oil marketing companies like Indian oil Corporation (IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL)had recently initiated the concept called LPG Panchayat in rural areas. As of November, India has around 251.1 million domestic LPG consumers — out of which 121.2 million are of IOC, 64 million are of BPCL, and another 65.9 million are of HPCL. However, out of this only 214 million are active consumers according to PPAC. Pushed by PMUY, during the last financial year LPG consumption a rise of almost 10 per cent to 21.5 MT compared to 19.6 MT during the financial year 2015-16. Interestingly, total LPG consumption has recorded a positive growth for continuously for the last fifty one months in a row. Cooking gas consumption has seen a growth of 6.7 per cent in November and a cumulative growth of 8.8 per cent for the period April to November in 2017. The cumulative subsidy on LPG and kerosene for the first six months of the financial year was also seen at Rs 90 billion. According to petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan, an additional 30 million connections under PMUY will lead to an investment of Rs 300 crore by OMCs.