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Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

Introduction
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.

Policy Details
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.

Connection Process

  • BPL households, which do not have an LPG connection, can apply for a new connection.
  • The applicant (a woman of the BPL household) needs to fill the ujjwala yojana form with details such as address, Jan Dhan, or other bank accounts and Aadhaar number.
    • Aadhaar number is mandatory and if in case, the Aadhaar number is not available, the applicant should separately apply for an Aadhaar number.
  • Once the application is submitted, the LPG field officials will match the application against the SECC-2011 database to ascertain the applicant’s BPL status.
  • After ascertaining the status, the field officer will enter the applicant’s details such as name and address into a dedicated oil marketing company (OMC) web portal.
  • After fulfilment of these details, OMCs will conduct their due diligence for a new LPG connection and issue connections sequentially to eligible beneficiaries.
  • The connection charges would be borne by the government.
  • To cover the cost of cooking stove and the first refill, OMCs will provide an EMI option to the new applicant.
    • The EMI amount may be recovered from the subsidy amount on each refill.
  • The scheme will cover all forms of distributorship and various sizes of cylinders such as 14.2 kgs and five kgs.
  • The PMUY scheme has been extended to all hilly states, including the North Eastern states, which have been termed as ‘priority states’.

Target Beneficiaries
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:

  • Recipients registered in the SECC-2011 list
  • All SC/ST household beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) (Gramin)
  • Beneficiaries of the Antyoday Anna Yojana (AAY)
  • Forest dwellers
  • Women belonging to the most backward classes (MBC)
  • Tribal women working or who have previously worked in tea gardens
  • People residing in islands and river islands

Key Benefits of the Scheme

  • Provide financial support of Rs. 1,600 for each LPG connection to the BPL households
  • Offer interest-free loans to purchase stove and refill from oil marketing companies
  • Govt. will bear the administrative cost of Rs. 1,600 for the connection, which includes a cylinder, pressure regulator, booklet and safety hose

Key Challenges of the Scheme
The government faced the following challenges while implementing the PMUY scheme:

  • Identification of poor households: This was the key challenge in allotment of free LPG connections, as there was a lack of authentic data that could help identify poor households with 100% accuracy. Though the government used the SECC-2011 data, it was reported that many deserving households were left out during the field work.
  • Misuse of the SECC data: It was noted that a few affluent households were also listed as BPL households in the SECC-2011 data and therefore, it became challenging to validate the authenticity of every data in the SECC database.
  • Safety awareness among beneficiaries: As most beneficiaries were from poor and illiterate backgrounds, they had limited awareness about the safety requirements for cooking on an LPG stove.
  • Unavailability of documents: In addition, many deserving households did not have mandatory documents such as ration card and Aadhaar card.
  • Limited reach of LPG distribution: In some parts of the country, LPG distributorships could not be established due to law & order issues or it being a forest area. Households in those areas are still disconnected with the scheme and are unable to have access of cleaner cooking fuel.

Progress Update
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.

  • In 2019, 78% PMUY beneficiaries refilled their cylinders
    • 63% beneficiaries who refilled their cylinders took four or more cylinders
  • In 2019, the average consumption of PMUY beneficiaries was three LPG cylinders per annum
  • Since its rollout, >317 million refills have been delivered to PMUY beneficiaries

Conclusion
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.