Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

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    • Recently, a Right to Information (RTI) application was filed to the three oil marketing firms to find out the status of the PM Ujjwala Scheme.

    About

    • In the last financial year, 90 lakh beneficiaries of the government’s flagship welfare scheme Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana did not refill their cylinders
    • And over 1 crore beneficiaries refilled their cylinders only once

    Image Courtesy: TH 

    • Distributors record drop in LPG cylinder bookings: As per a reply filed by the government in Lok Sabha, in March this year, the LPG consumption under the Ujjwala Yojana remains at 3.66 refills per connection annually.
    • 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.
    • Commercial LPG prices hiked: PMUY beneficiaries have availed 14.17 crore free refills under the Scheme, across the country, as per the same reply filed by Union Petroleum Ministry in Lok Sabha.

    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. 
    • These 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 enrollment procedure will require minimal paperwork.
      • In it,, migrants will not be required to submit ration cards or address proof.
      • A 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: TH