The Union Cabinet on Monday expanded the ambit of the government's flagship social-sector scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), to all the poor people in the country.
The scheme, aimed at supplying free liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections to poor families, had a target of reaching out to 80 million families by 2020.
With the expansion of the scheme, it will not be necessary for the beneficiaries to be part of the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) list or the seven identified categories -- SC/ST households, beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) (Gramin), Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY), Forest dwellers, Most Backward Classes (MBC), Tea & Ex-Tea Garden Tribes, people residing in Islands/river islands.
"With further expansion in scope of eligible categories, all poor households not covered under any of these categories will also benefit from PMUY," Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan tweeted. He added that the step will further increase penetration of LPG to 100 per cent households.
PMUY, launched in May 2016, initially targeted 50 million connections to below poverty line (BPL) families by 2019, with the support of Rs 1,600 to each family. So far, 58.5 million connections have been given under the scheme across 715 districts.
The scheme was widely appreciated as the Census of 2011 showed that nearly 121 million households used traditional stoves (chullha) in India. "Out of 270 million households, only 130 million had LPG connections when the BJP government took over. After that, 120 million households have been added. Of this, more than 50 million was through Ujjwala," Pradhan told the media. At present, the three oil marketing companies -- Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) -- together have a consumer base of 247.2 million active LPG customers in the domestic category, which is being served by 21,566 distributors. As on December 1, India has a total LPG penetration of 89.5 per cent.
Based on government data, nearly 80 per cent of 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. To promote the scheme, the government has also recently launched LPG Panchayats.