In 2016, the Indian government launched Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), a social welfare scheme supporting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of smoke-free rural India. The scheme was introduced with the aim to provide concessional LPG connections to the whole country by 2019.
The scheme was expected to benefit 80 million families (the previous target was 50 million families), especially those living below poverty line (BPL). It will help increase LPG usage and reduce air pollution, deforestation and health disorders among citizens.
Need for PM Ujjwala Yojana
In India, LPG connections are concentrated in urban and semiurban areas, with most connections in middle class and upper middle class households. Due to limited access to LPG, low-income households routinely use fossil fuels such as coal, kerosene and timber as the key sources for cooking; however, these sources are largely associated with serious health hazards including indoor air pollution, which is responsible for causing acute respiratory illnesses, pulmonary and lung diseases.
According to the WHO, ~5 lakh deaths in India can be attributed to use of unclean cooking fuels, wherein a majority deaths were due to non-communicable diseases such as lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Through the PMUY scheme, the govt. aims to maximise the reach of LPG connections to low-income and below poverty line (BPL) households and thereby, reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. Apart from ensuring universal coverage of LPG connections in the country, this scheme also empowers women and their health by reducing drudgery and the time spent on cooking. It will help generate employment for rural youth in the supply chain management of cooking gas.
The key objective of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana is to protect the health of women & children by providing clean cooking fuel and therefore, reducing their dependency on conventional cooking fuels such as coal and firewood, which will lower indoor smoke pollution and the risk of related diseases.
Under this scheme, the government will provide LPG connections to 80 million BPL households and include support of Rs. 1, 600 per connection, which will be only issued to women beneficiaries. In addition, it announced an outlay of Rs. 128 billion to implement the scheme across the country and will use the Socio-economic Caste Census (SECC)-2011 data to identify BPL families.
The key target audience of this scheme are women belonging to low-income or BPL families. In this class of consumers, those who do not have an LPG connection in their household can apply for a connection under the expanded scheme. In addition, the LPG connection will only be provided under the name of women beneficiary of the BPL household.
Under the Pradhanmantri Ujjwala Yojana scheme, the following categories will be covered:
Key Benefits of the Scheme
Key Challenges of the Scheme
The government faced the following challenges while implementing the PMUY scheme:
Initially, the scheme was targeted to issue 50 million LPG connections until March 2020. This number was later revised to 80 million households to accommodate new families under the updated identification criteria.
As of July 2019, 82.1 million KYC applications were cleared and 79.6 million connections were issued under the PMUY programme.
Based on these numbers, the scheme has not only recorded high adoption, but also emphasised that service utilisation is high. Moreover, LPG coverage increased from 61% before 2016 to 94.7% in 2019; this showcases that the scheme has been widely accepted by the people and enabled many households to access clean cooking fuel. The PMUY has not only achieved women empowerment and reduced health hazards, but also boosted the manufacturing sector by increasing consumption of cylinders, stoves, regulators, hose pipes, etc.