The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwal Yojana was launched by the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi on 1st May 2016 from Maldepur Morh, Ballia in Uttar Pradesh and the Yoajana is related to providing free gas connection to those families which are surviving below the poverty line and those who are using traditional Chulas, and such chulas are use mainly in villages.
In the patriarchy society, the government has tried to give importance to women and has provided free gas connection in the name of the female member of the family. The scheme was launched to replace the unclean cooking fuels which are mostly used in the rural area of the country by more efficient cooking gas LPG.
The Yojana belongs to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and has targeted to provide around 5 Crore LPG connections to families who belong to those mentioned above across India at initial stage of launching this Yojana. This target was successfully achieved by the Government of India and thus it increase the target to 8 Crore connection by the year 2019.
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Why was Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Launched?
In India, LPGs are used only in urban areas and cover the middle class families only and those who are rich. In Rural India, no one uses LPG and they are dependent on those traditional fuel or method of cooking and this is very dangerous. According the stats of World Health Organization, around five lakh people die because of unclean cooking fuels.
Most of these deaths occur due to diseases such as heart, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer which are caused by regular use of unclean fuels. Not only this, indoor pollution is dangerous for other members of the family, especially children.
There are many reasons and some of the reasons by which the Yojana was launched are:
- The families who are living under the poverty line cannot afford better fuels for cooking and therefore this Yojana will provide them free connection.
- In rural India, unclean fuels were used for cooking which is dangerous for the health of the family.
- The scheme wanted to empower the women belonging to the rural area by providing free connection under their names.
To overcome the problems and to achieve targets of women empowerment, the scheme was launched.
Aims of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aims to remove the unclean fuel by providing free LPG connections to families under the Poverty Line. Unclean fuels are harmful to the health of women working in the kitchen and other member of the families.
The aims and objects of the Yojana are as follows:
- The Yojana aims to protect the health of women and also empower women.
- Eliminating health problems that are the outcome of using unclean fuels.
- The Yojana will reduce the number of deaths occurring due to the use of unclean fuels and other fossil fuels.
- To control respiratory issues that occur due to indoor pollution because of the fossil fuels that does not burn easily.
- Protecting environmental degradation and damage to purity of the environment that occurs due to the use of unclean fuels.
Salient Features of the Scheme
- TAGLINE: The scheme is launch with a unique and attractive tagline that is “Swach Indhan, Behtar Bharat”, which means that the country will improve if the fuel used for cooking purpose is pure or clean.
- MAIN PURPOSE: The purpose behind providing free LPG connection and providing the same with the name of the female member of the family is to empower women and protect the Indian household specially the women of the house from unclean, fossil fuels and dangerous fuels for cooking.
- BENEFITS: The Scheme is launched for empowering women and therefore the ultimate beneficiary of the scheme is an adult female member of the family who will get free LPG connection under this Yojana.
- BENEFICIARY IDENTIFICATION: According to this scheme, the identification of beneficiary will be such that only an adult woman member of the family who is below the poverty line will be identified as a beneficiary. Along with free LPG connection, additional financial assistance of Rs. 1600 will be provided to the women.
- MINISTRY: The Yojana was launched by the Prime Minister but the power of implementing this Yojana is under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. The first welfare scheme of this Yojana was also implemented by this ministry.
- TARGET: The government has successfully accomplished its initial targets by providing 5 Crore LPG connections to the families which are below the poverty line and now has set the target of providing 8 Crore free connections to the poor families.
The targeted beneficiaries under this scheme are those families which belong to below poverty line. A person or a family is said to be Below Poverty Line when it suffers from at least one caste deprivation under the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) according to the data of the year 2011.
The benefits shall be given only to those families which are below the poverty line and preference shall be given to those families belonging to the schedule caste, schedule tribe and other weaker section of the society.
The free LPG connection will be in the name of the elder female member of the family. This step is taken to empower women in rural areas.
The following categories are also covered under the Yojana:
- Schedule caste and Schedule Tribe household beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin)
- Antyoday Anna Yojana
- Forest dwellers
- Most Backward Classes
- Tea and Ex-Tea Garden Tribes
- People residing in island
- People residing in river islands.
How to Apply for Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana?
The government took care of the needs of the people and did not keep the process of application very complex.
A person who wants to get registered under this scheme needs to provide certain necessary documents along with other information and eligibility criteria.
- The first step is to procure a form by the person who wants to get registered. The form is available at all the LPG outlets which are present in every part of the country. Form can also be procured form the website of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.
- The form so procured need to be filled with the details such as name, age, bank account details, Aadhaar number and any other such details as prescribed by the form.
- The photocopy of the required documents much be attached with the form.
- The applicant also needs to mention the type of cylinder they require based on their needs.
- When the application form is filled the same is to be submitted along with other documents required to the closest LPG outlet.
- These panchayats provides a platform for interacting between those who received benefits of this scheme.
- These panchayats spreads awareness among the LPG users about proper use of the clean fuel and their benefits.
Issues and Challenges Faced by the Scheme
1. Less Awareness:
The major hurdle which comes in the way of implementing this scheme is low awareness among the rural people about the advantages or the benefits of the LPG as a cooking fuel. They are not familiar to LPG and therefore they hesitate in adopting LPG for the purpose of cooking.
2. Identifying the Beneficiaries:
- Identification of the beneficiaries is a major challenge of the scheme. The identification is done according to the SECC database which could have errors and cannot be fully reliable.
- The government is facing pressures from the oil marketing companies to meet and exceed the targets which might result in dilution in the process of beneficiary identification.
3. Safety Issues:
Safety issues are raised by the Federation of LPG Distribution of India. They are:
- After providing free connections, more than 90 per cent of the households do not follow the safety instructions and do not meet the parameters which are required for installation.
- Though insurance is provided by the Oil Marketing Companies but no med claim facilities are provided in case of any unfortunate incidents.
4. LPG Distribution:
- The LPG consumers are increasing day by day but the suppliers are not increasing with the same rate.
- From April 2016, the increase in the total number of suppliers is only 9 per cent which is very low as compared to the consumers.
- The consumers have to wait for a long time for getting their empty cylinders filled and this is a drawback of successful implementation of the Yojana.
5. Affordability and Inactive Gas Cylinders:
- Once the cylinder gets empty, the consumers do not get their cylinders for refilling. The connections are increasing because of this reason only. They apply for new connection despite of getting empty cylinder filled.
- The refill charges are very high and such high charges are beyond the scope of the pockets of the consumers and they are not able to bear this cost. Therefore, they never get their empty cylinders refilled.
- The poor feels that the unclean fuels are cheaper than the LPG cylinders and therefore they do not adopt LPGs.
- The government should regularly publish and monitor the scheme and should prepare a data of issues which are related to the Yojana.
- The focus should not be on increasing number of connections but it should be on providing subsidies for future use to the families which are living below the poverty line.
- Timely availability of cylinders is need of the hour.
- Safety measures should be adopted and consumer grievances handling systems should also be constituted.
- Safety parameters to be met before installation.
- Citizens should be aware about the advantages of using LPG as cooking fuel.