PM Ujjwala Yojana
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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
The Yojana: The scheme aims to protect women and children from the smoke emitted from households using firewood for cooking purposes.
Mantra: Swacch Indhan, Behtar Jeevan – Mahilaon ko mila samman
- Under the scheme, families below the poverty line are to be provided with LPG connections with a support of Rs. 1,600 per connection in the next three years.
- The LPG connections will be issued in the name of the women of the households
COVID-19: Beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) will be entitled to 3 free Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders effective 1 April to 30 June 2020. An extension has been approved till end September for availing free cooking gas cylinders under the marque Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY).
- Research showed that people using solid biomass frequently suffer from headaches, nausea, chronic bronchitis and many skin diseases. Indoor air pollution and the acute respiratory illnesses caused by it were observed in most rural women.
- Ujjwala has empowered women and protected them and their families through the use of clean burning fuel by helping prevent a significant number of acute respiratory illnesses and other ailments.
- PMUY implementation has been appreciated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a decisive intervention to check the indoor health pollution being faced by the women of the country.
- Fine particulate matter refers to particles or droplets with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres (0.000001 metres) or less, and is also known as PM2.5. Such particles can travel deep into the respiratory system, and exposure to them can cause several adverse health effects, both short-term and long-term, including respiratory problems and heart disease.
Safety: Women going to the forests for collecting firewood are also often exposed to health and safety issues, even sexual harassment at times. This is considerably decreased as a result of the LPG connections.
- Release of LPG connection under this Scheme shall be in the name of the women belonging to the BPL family enabling the subsidy provision in the women’s account.
- Also, using LPG saves time for women as they do not have to collect solid fuel and then use it for cooking, with this cooking time can be effectively used in other economic activities.
- Women in many villages formed self-help groups to indulge in community economic activities in their free time.
Environment: There is a definite positive impact on forest cover and the environment from stopping the use of firewood.
Youth employment: It provided employment for rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas. Employment in the logistics and maintenance services are an additional benefit.
Climate and air pollution measures:
- Significantly helps in control of particulate matter and indoor air pollution, giving way to a clean energy cooking process.
- The emissions of PM2.5 generated by the burning of solid fuels in households is termed Household Air Pollution (HAP).
- The study claims that approximately 800,000 premature deaths occur in India every year as a result of exposure to HAP indoors.
- Moreover, the HAP produced indoors travels outdoors, and becomes a contributor to ambient air pollution, with around 300,000 more premature deaths per year attributable to exposure to outdoor HAP.
Female financial empowerment:
- To get an LPG gas connection under Ujjwala scheme, it is compulsory to have a bank account in the name of a female member of a family. Many Jan Dhan accounts were opened for women.
- Government statistics from January 2018 show that of 30.97 crores accounts opened under Jan Dhan scheme, 16.37 crores (roughly 50 percent) were opened in the name of women resulting in financial inclusion and betterment of women’s economic status.
Development of children: Women can now engage in socialisation of children and take care of their nutrition and education, thus building a robust future.
Recognition from International Agencies: Developed countries and International agencies like WHO and IEA have hailed the scheme as clean, convenient and energy-efficient source provision and also serving as an inspiration for developing countries.
Some of the issues:
Issue of refill and affordability: refilling of LPG gas connections saw a fall in refill from 35000 in 2016-17 to 13000 in 2018. Also, several complaints of affordability was raised as a reluctance of adoption was shown.
Behavioural Limitations: It requires behavioural changes as it is difficult to give up on age old practices of using traditional chulhas with a lack of awareness among people regarding benefits of use of LPG gases.
Inactive and corrupt uses: Many inactive accounts were identified, with some accounts bearing false beneficiaries using LPG for commercial and profitable purposes.
Economic impact: To meet the requirements, LPG imports may cost the exchequer significantly.
The Way Forward
- Additional incentives to encourage regular use of cooking gas are necessary for a complete transition to clean cooking fuel among poor rural households. Ujjwala was able to attract new consumers rapidly, but those consumers did not start using LPG on a regular basis.
- In order to ensure 100% LPG coverage in India – not only by the number of households covered but also by the number of households actually using it – it is important to make it easier for the country’s poor to buy a refill. This will require spending more on LPG subsidies.
Connecting the Dots:
- Does there exist a direct relation of smokeless kitchens with economic development. Discuss.
- Why is having an LPG connection important for woman empowerment? Examine.