As many as four LPG cylinders are bought by about 60 per cent of the 3.2 crore poor women who were given free cooking gas connection, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said today. Since launch on May 1, 2016, more than 3.2 crore LPG connections, each costing Rs 1,600, have been given to poor women under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY). This is more than half of the 5 crore free LPG connection target sector for three years. “We have studied the first year consumption pattern and have found that about 60 per cent of the beneficiaries on an average bought four refills. This is a very encouraging trend and we hope the number will increase in future,” he said here. Debunking reports that most of the women who got free LPG connections did not buy a refill, he said data suggests beneficiaries are buying LPG refills after exhausting the first bottle.
There however are pockets like tribal areas where the refill is nil as they have gone back to use of firewood. Addressing inauguration of India chapter of ‘Women in LPG’ here, he said PMUY was launched to provide clean cooking fuel to about 10 crore households that used firewood, coal, dung-cakes and other polluting fuel. The smoke from burning such fuels causes alarming household pollution and adversely affects the health of women and children causing several respiratory diseases/ disorders, he said. As per a WHO report, smoke inhaled by women from unclean fuel is equivalent to burning 400 cigarettes in an hour. “PMUY aims to safeguard the health of women by providing them with a clean cooking fuel – LPG, so that they do not have to compromise their health in smoky kitchens or wander in unsafe areas collecting firewood,” he said. He said Rs 8,000 crore was allocated for the scheme.