The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), which won the BJP-led NDA government a lot of rural women votes in the just concluded general elections, is expected to be further expanded under the incoming government with a focus on delivery and use of smaller 5 kg LPG gas cylinders.
Under PMUY, gas connections are provided to below poverty line (BPL) families with a support of Rs 1,600 for each connection. The LPG connection is provided in the name of the female member of the family.
Official sources here said that the targeted 80 million connections under PMUY will be completed in the first 100 days of the new government.
So far, Ujjwala connections have reached the 71.9-million mark. After this goal is achieved, use of smaller 5 kg cylinders would be made mandatory under the scheme so that it is available across the country and help support cooking gas refills.
"The average LPG cylinder refill under Ujjwala is a pathetic 3 per annum while the national average stands close to seven refills in a year. Price of cylinders is a big factor here as refills are not 100 per cent subsidised," a public sector oil marketing company executive said.
"The use of smaller cylinders under the scheme can change all this," he added.
While the customer in Delhi has to pay about Rs 712 at the time of purchasing a 14.2-kg cylinder (within the per household limit of 12 refills), the subsidy amount paid in the female subscriber's bank account under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme is around Rs 215.
In the case of 5-kg cylinder, the while the current cost of the refill is around Rs 260, the subsidy that will be credited to the bank account is about Rs 80.
A Petroleum Ministry study shoes that the high cost of refills for a 14.2 kg cylinder is one of the main reasons why lower number of LPG cylinders are being used by BPL families.
With 5 kg cylinders, refills can be had at one-third the price of a regular cylinder. This will make it easier for families to increase their year-round use of gas connections given under Ujjwala.
Moreover, portability of smaller cylinders could also allow wider popularity of this cleaner medium for cooking.
According to sources, the scope of this vote gainer scheme would be expanded and its terms further relaxed so that this cooking medium reaches the lowest strata of the population.
The PMUY was rolled out in the country from Uttar Pradesh in 2016. The initial target for connections under it was kept low, but the government kept on increasing it as the scheme became popular and penetration increased in quick time.
(Subhash Narayan can be contacted at email@example.com)
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