Syllabus: GS2/Government Policies and Interventions, Welfare Scheme
- The Union Cabinet has recently approved the extension of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) for release of 75 lakh LPG connections over three years from Financial Year 2023-24 to 2025-26.
- Provisioning of 75 lakh additional Ujjwala connections will take the total number of PMUY beneficiaries to 10.35 crore.
- As per the existing modalities of Ujjawala 2.0, the first refill and stove will also be provided free of cost to Ujjwala beneficiaries.
- A targeted subsidy of Rs.200 per 14.2 kg LPG cylinder for upto 12 refills per year is being provided to PMUY consumers.
- Without continuation of PMUY, eligible poor households may not be able to get their due benefit under the scheme.
Need of clean cooking fuel
- Women’s ease of living through clean cooking: According to the WHO, approximately 2.4 billion people worldwide (one-third of the global population), rely on open fires or inefficient stoves fuelled by kerosene, biomass (such as wood, animal dung, and crop waste), and coal for cooking.
- This leads to harmful household air pollution, contributing to an estimated 3.2 million deaths annually in 2020, with over 237,000 deaths being children under the age of 5.
- Achieving a sustainable and pollution-free future requires addressing the issue of household air pollution, especially to prevent suffering among women and children.
- A heightened mortality risk due to illnesses such as pneumonia, lung cancer, ischaemic heart, and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases is extensively reported due to use of traditional fuels like firewood, coal and dung cakes in rural India.
- Non-renewable wood fuels for cooking cause a gigaton of CO2 emissions, and burning residential solid fuels comprise 58 percent of black carbon emissions. They are also a significant contributor to household air pollution (HAP) due to incomplete combustion of solid biomass.
- Research also indicates that this is a gender problem: girls and women face increased exposure to solid fuels. Cooking with solid fuels delays progress towards five of the UN SDGs.
PMUY scheme- Achievements
- The PMUY scheme has empowered women economically and socially.
- With easier access to LPG, women are no longer burdened with the task of collecting firewood or other traditional fuels, which often required long and laborious journeys.
- This newfound convenience allows them to participate more actively in community life and take up other income-generating opportunities.
- Furthermore, the Ujjwala scheme has contributed to enhancing the safety and security of women, as they no longer need to venture into isolated and potentially unsafe areas to collect firewood or fuel.
- Per capita consumption of PMUY beneficiaries which was 3.01 in 2018-19 has increased to 3.71 in 2022-23. PMUY beneficiaries took more than 35 Cr LPG refills a year now (2022-23).
Initiatives to expand LPG coverage
- PAHAL (Pratyaksh Hastantarit Labh): Instead of providing LPG cylinders at subsidized price, those were sold at market price, and applicable subsidy was directly transferred to an individual’s bank account electronically.
- This reduced “ghost” accounts and illegal use of household cylinders for commercial purposes, ensuring that only the intended beneficiaries receive the benefits.
- GIVE IT UP: Instead of removing subsidies forcefully, people were encouraged to voluntarily surrender their subsidies.
- Through extensive promotion, millions of people willingly gave up the subsidies, which helped redirect the funds to those who genuinely needed assistance in acquiring LPG cylinders.
- During Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in 2020, free refill scheme under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana was implemented. Under this scheme, assistance of Rs. 9670.41 Crore was given to PMUY beneficiaries in support of 14.17 Crore LPG refills.