Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, PMUY scheme was aimed at achieving a shift from polluting to cleaner methods of cooking, and it has overshot its target of giving 80 million free LPG connections.

Details

  • The data also shows that in the last four years (2016-2020), PMUY connections account for 71% of growth in total domestic LPG connections in the country.
  • This success however has not helped the PMUY achieve its stated goal.
  • A unit level analysis of data from the National Sample Survey conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO) shows that 43% of PMUY beneficiaries were not using LPG for cooking.
  • The share of beneficiaries not using LPG for cooking increases down the economic ladder.
  • The fact that almost 70% of PMUY beneficiaries are from the bottom 40% of the households, shows the scheme has been remarkably successful in reaching poor households.

Cost of refill problem

  • The 2018 NSO survey findings show that the average monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) of the poorest 20% households in India was Rs. 1,065 – which means a cylinder refill costing Rs. 500 would comprise nearly half of a household’s MPCE.
  • Even though PMUY and subsidised LPG consumers receive a subsidy on refill, they have to make the full payment upfront before the subsidy amount is transferred back to them.
  • The high cost of gas refills, the CAG report said, has become a constraint in ensuring sustained usage of LPG.
  • To be sure, beneficiaries under the PMUY scheme could also opt for a 5 kg cylinder in place of a routine 14.2 kg cylinder.
  • The government also allowed swapping the bigger cylinder with the smaller one to make it easier for consumers to get a refill.

Way Forward

In order to ensure 100% LPG coverage in India – not only by the number of households covered but also by the number of households actually using it – it is important to make it easier for the country’s poor to buy a refill. This will require spending more on LPG subsidies.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)

  • The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) is a government scheme launched in 2016 which envisages the distribution of 50 million LPG connections to women below the poverty line.
  • PMUY is a scheme of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.
  • There are 27.87 Crore active LPG consumers in the country, with the PMUY beneficiaries accounting for over 8 crores.

Why was PMUY Necessary?

  • As per the estimates of the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 5 lakh deaths in India occurred due to unclean cooking fuel.
  • These deaths were caused mostly due to non-communicable diseases including heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.
  • Providing LPG connections to families below the poverty line will ensure universal coverage of cooking gas in the country.
  • The scheme can be a tool for women empowerment in that LPG connections and clean cooking fuel can reduce cooking time and effort, and in most of India, cooking is a responsibility shouldered solely by women.
  • The scheme also provides employment to the rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas.

Advantages of PMUY

  • Providing LPG connections to BPL households will ensure universal coverage of cooking gas in the country.
  • This measure will empower women and protect their health.
  • It will reduce drudgery and the time spent on cooking.
  • It will also provide employment for rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas.

-Source: Hindustan Times

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