Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

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    • Recently, the Union Government admitted that over 9 million beneficiaries did not refill cylinders last year due to high prices of LPG.

    About the recent data

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    • Beneficiaries:
      • 16.5 million Beneficiaries took 0-1 refills in 2017-18, 41.4 million in 2018-19.
      • 32.4 million In 2019-20 and 7.7 million in 2020-21. 
      • The number of beneficiaries who did not take any refill remained the highest in 2019-20.
      • These figures show that the intention with which PMUY was launched is not being fulfilled.
    • Subsidy:
      • Because of the declining interest in the scheme the Centre has announced a subsidy of Rs 200 per cylinder for up to 12 cylinders for 2022-23.
    • Consumption pattern:
      • Consumption of LPG depended on many factors like eating habits, size of households, cooking habits, prices and availability of alternative fuels.
      • The biggest reason for not refilling LPG cylinders is said to be its high price.
      • There has been a major decline in the subsidy for LPG cylinders through direct benefit transfer (DBT).
    • COVID effect: 
      • These figures should also take into account the fact that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government provided up to three free of cost LPG refills to PMUY beneficiaries from April 1, 2020, and this was extended up to December 31, 2020.

    PM Ujjwala Scheme

    • It is a scheme of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas for providing LPG connections to women from Below Poverty Line (BPL) households
    • The scheme was originally launched on May 1, 2016, in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh by the Prime Minister of India with a target of releasing 8 crore connections by March 2020.
    • During Ujjwala 1.0, a target was set to provide LPG connections to 5 crore women members of BPL households.
    • Subsequently, the scheme was expanded in April 2018 to include women beneficiaries from seven more categories (SC/ST, PMAY, AAY, Most backward classes, tea garden, forest dwellers, Islands).
    • Also, the target was revised to 8 Crore LPG connections.
      • So far over 9 crores of connections under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana have been released.  
    • This target was achieved in August 2019, seven months ahead of the target date. 
    • The PMUY 2.0 was launched in the financial year 2021-22 making a provision for the release of additional one crore connections.

    PMUY 2.0

    • In the Union budget for FY 21-22, provision for an additional one crore LPG connection under the PMUY scheme was announced. 
    • This one crore additional PMUY connections (under Ujjwala 2.0) aim to provide deposit-free LPG connections to those low-income families who could not be covered under the earlier phase of PMUY.
    • Other Benefits: 
      • It will provide the first refill and hotplate free of cost to the beneficiaries. 
      • The enrolment procedure will require minimal paperwork.
      • In it,, migrants will not be required to submit ration cards or address proof.
      • self-declaration for both ‘family declaration’ and a ‘proof of address will suffice. 
      • It will help achieve the Prime Minister’s vision of universal access to LPG.

    Objectives & significance

    • Health Benefits:  health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuel.
      • WHO estimates: About 5 lakh deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuels. 
    • Women Empowerment: Women are saved from the danger of collecting firewood by hiking long distances.
    • Socio-Economic Benefits: Productive activities, & connection on Women’s name.
    • Environment: Less pollution due to fuel burning.

    Challenges

    • High Initial Cost: No support by the government at the refiling stage forces the poor to pay more.
    • Administrative concerns: For example, Data discrepancies in Aadhar. 
    • Logistics: Lack of last-mile connectivity & filling plants in rural areas.
    • Behavioural concerns: Despite having LPG, people still use wood to save costs.

    Way Ahead

    • Strengthening the supply chain, Ensuring affordability, availability, and accountability.

    Source: DTE