• Introduction.
  • Government steps taken.
  • State of India’s domestic fuel use.
  • Conclusion.

The world may not ensure universal access to affordable and modern energy services by 2030 as per Sustainable Development Goals. A recent report says that India, South East Asia & sub-Saharan Africa will not meet SDG Target 7.1, thus preventing the world from moving towards a cleaner future.

India has experienced many changes in its energy consumption patterns, due to the natural increase based on population growth and increase in economic activity vis-à-vis development.

Government initiatives:

  • In the first 3 decades, the union government supported initiatives to build solid-fuel based stoves with lesser emissions.
  • In 2009, National Biomass cookstoves was launched which approved 17 cookstove models for domestic use. But their efficacy in reducing indoor air pollution is not ascertained.
  • Since, nearly half of India’s households use solid fuels for cooking, India planned to ensure 80 million households with LPG connections by 2020 under its flagship Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.

State of India’s domestic fuel use:

  • India’s rural population heavily relies on traditional biomass-based fuels for meeting energy needs. Around 15% of total energy expenditure occurred on firewood even in urban families.
  • The HFHS-3 (2005-06) and NFHS-4 (2014-15) have shown State-wise decadal trends in solid fuel usage – West Bengal stands at 79.2% (NFHS-3) & 72.1% (NFHS-4), Odisha stands at 88.6% (NFHS-3), Assam stands at 74.9% (NFHS-4), Madhya Pradesh at 80.3% (NFHS-3) & 70.4 (NFHS-4), etc. While the average usage across states is above 64%.
  • It is reported that 80% of PMUY beneficiaries completing 1 year connection have returned for refill. I.e., at least 10 million (20%) have not come for refill. It is unsure whether of the 40 million who came for second refill, have come for 3rd or subsequent refills. Hence, if beneficiaries are not regularly refilling cylinders, it will be misleading to boast the success of the scheme.
  • Reasons : LPG connection under PMUY is not free, so affordability remains a major bottleneck. Other factors are – (a) lack of distributors, (b) logistically difficult terrain in some areas, (c) cumbersome process of getting LPG connection, especially for poor, (d) unwillingness to shift to LPG.
  • Kerosene cooking is widespread. Although kerosene is advocated as a cleaner alternative, yet studies are few on its harmful effects.
  • to IEA, 688 million people are deprived of clean cooking fuels in India. 681 millions still rely on traditional biomasses. If this trend continues, 580 million Indians will depend upon solid fuels by 2030.

It is evident that India will not meet SDG target by 2030. About 40% Indians will remain exposed to harmful indoor air pollution from traditional cooking fuels. Unsustainable harvest of fuel wood is a major cause of forest degradation, contributing to more than 93% of GHG emissions from forestry sector. Clean cooking not only ensures sustainable energy security but also address poverty. Inadequate access to clean & affordable energy is one reason for the low quality of life. So, the new challenges demand a new paradigm for India’s energy policy.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish May 27, 2023