At a time when the Union Cabinet has expanded the ambit of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) to all 'poor people', the flagship scheme of the BJP government is set to complete 60 million-consumer mark on Monday.
Early this month, the reach of the cooking gas scheme was extended to all the poor in the country -- through which beneficiaries can avail it by simply submitting ration card or Aadhar card. The move is likely to add another 20 million people to the scheme that was targeted to reach out to 80 million consumers.
Pushed by the scheme, overall liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) penetration in India increased from 62 per cent in 2016 to 90 per cent now, one of the top achievements of the current government in clean energy sector. On January 31 (Monday) at an event in Delhi's Constitution Club vice president Venkaiah Naidu will be distributing PMUY connections celebrating 60 million mark of the scheme.
Till Friday, the scheme added 58.6 million consumers across 715 districts in India. "With the expansion of the scheme, it will now reach out to more consumers in the Eastern region of the country," said an oil marketing company official. The success of the scheme is also credited to a team of officials who are constantly monitoring PMUY on a daily basis. The team is headed by Ashutosh Jindal (joint secretary-marketing) and K M Mahesh (director) from petroleum ministry and representatives of state-run companies like Indian Oil Corporation (IOC, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL).
However, the rise in international product prices marked a concern for the government with the subsidy figures on LPG increasing multi-fold during the current year. The subsidy outgo for LPG during the first six months of the current financial year was seen at Rs 139.21 billion compared to Rs 208.8 billion for the entire financial year 2017-18. With the success of PMUY, the total LPG consumption in India increased by 11 per cent from 21.1 million tonne (MT) in 2016-17 to 23.34 MT during the financial year 2017-18. For the April to November period of the current financial year too, the consumption figures saw a rise of 5 per cent compared to the same time last year. PMUY, launched in May 2016, initially targetted 50 million connections by 2019 to BPL families with the support of Rs 1,600 to each family.
With the rising demand, the industry has also lined up massive investment plans on bottling facilities and pipeline infrastructure. The three OMCs put together are coming up with 60 new bottling plants across the country, increasing the total 191 units now. "All the existing plants are running on above 100 per cent capacity. Looking into this, companies are coming up with huge investment plans," said Sanjiv Singh, chairman of IOC. The new bottling plants — 21 by IOC, 20 by BPCL and 19 by HPCL will itself see investments to the tune of Rs 4 billion, in addition to Rs 100 billion LPG pipeline project from Kandla to Gorakhpur, that got clearance last week.