Ujjwala Yojana & Declining Air Pollution
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General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
General Studies 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Air pollution kills more Indians than any other risk factor with estimates ranging from 15 to 20 lakh premature deaths annually. Although outdoor air pollution garners most public attention, it is well-known in health circles that pollution from chulhas is about half of the problem because people in households are directly exposed to such pollution.
It is less well-understood, however, that the two are linked: One of the reasons India has such bad outdoor air pollution is that nearly 200 million households are still burning biomass every day for cooking. Solving the household dirty fuel problem will also help reduce the outdoor air problem, although not solve it on its own.
- Around 3 billion people cook using polluting open fires or simple stoves fuelled by kerosene, biomass (wood, animal dung and crop waste) and coal.
- Each year, close to 4 million people die prematurely from illness attributable to household air pollution from inefficient cooking practices using polluting stoves paired with solid fuels and kerosene.
- Household air pollution causes noncommunicable diseases including stroke, ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.
- Close to half of deaths due to pneumonia among children under 5 years of age are caused by particulate matter (soot) inhaled from household air pollution.
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana: Targeting Forgotten Population
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana is a scheme of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas for providing LPG connections to women from Below Poverty Line (BPL) households.
Mantra: Swacch Indhan, Behtar Jeevan – Mahilaon ko mila samman
- Under the scheme, five crore (now 8 crores) LPG connections are to be provided to BPL households. The identification of eligible BPL families will be made in consultation with the State Governments and the Union Territories.
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) aims to safeguard the health of women & children by providing them with a clean cooking fuel – LPG, so that they don’t have to compromise their health in smoky kitchens or wander in unsafe areas collecting firewood.
- The ambitious scheme also laid down a condition — that the LPG connections will be issued in the name of the women of the households.
- Encouraged by the rapid release of connections, the central government revised the target and scope of the scheme to eight crore connections by March 2020.
- Under the scheme, the union government bears the connection cost of ₹1,600 per connection, and each household pays about ₹1,500 for the stove and the first LPG cylinder. Centre to raise allocation for the project to ₹4,800 crore
Marks a significant shift in the government’s approach to providing access to clean cooking fuels:
For the first time, it chose to aggressively pursue providing modern cooking fuels to all Indian households.
- This is an important step since household air pollution (HAP) arising from combustion of solid fuels for cooking is a major contributor to four of the top five causes of mortality and morbidity in India, and HAP is also a significant contributor to outdoor air pollution
- Recent research suggests that providing clean cooking fuels to all can be a highly cost-effective health intervention
- In addition, collection and use of solid fuels for cooking increases the drudgery and adversely impacts time-use by women
The Way Forward:
PMUY is a bold new initiative that aspires to fundamentally address one of the pressing energy–access, health and gender challenges in the country.
- The programme has been successful in introducing a sense of urgency into the transition to modern cooking fuels and disbursing connections. But it has been less successful in introducing a sustained change because of issues around affordability and reliability of LPG supply.
- Government needs to re-look at their connection focused approach, and should ensure adequate provisions for affordability, availability, and accountability.
- This will propel PMUY to achieve the desired objective of not only disbursing connections but making the LPG sector a real contributor to overcoming this deep-rooted challenge affecting energy access, health, and gender disparity.
- There needs to be a synergy in the Gas connection with the Electricity connection.
Must Read: Link 1
Connecting the Dots:
- Does there exist a direct relation of smokeless kitchens with economic development. Discuss.