(AIR OFFICIAL: Spotlight/News Analysis)
Dec 30: Year Ender Series: Special Discussion on Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana – https://youtu.be/5uMIQd9Riyg
- GS-2 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.
Year Ender Series: Special Discussion on Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
Context: The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) was launched in May 2016 with the objective of providing free LPG connections to 50 million (subsequently 8 Crores) women belonging to below poverty line (BPL) households over a period of three years. LPG distributors, local NGOs, and self-help groups were involved to make it an inclusive social movement.
Impact on the lives of poor women in India
- Health: 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.
- 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.
- Economic empowerment: 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.
Other benefits of the PMUY:
- Environment: There is a definite positive impact on forest cover and the environment from stopping the use of firewood.
- Youth employment: It will also provide 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.
- 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
- 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.
The journey from Ujjwala 1.0 to Ujjwala 2.0
- It is implemented by Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas
- Ujjwala 1.0 was launched in 2016, during which a target was set to provide deposit-free LPG connections to 5 crore women members of BPL households.
- Subsequently, the scheme was expanded in April 2018 to include women beneficiaries from seven more categories (SC/ST, PMAY, AAY, most backward classes, tea garden, forest dwellers etc).
- EMI facilities will be given for stove and refill cost (Interest-free loan).
- The scheme is complementary to the Prime Minister’s ‘Give It Up Campaign’ through which a huge number of middle-class families have voluntarily surrendered their cooking gas subsidy.
- The target was revised to 8 Crore LPG connections and this target was achieved in August 2019, seven months ahead of the target date.
- In the Union budget for FY 21-22, provision for an additional one crore LPG connection under the PMUY scheme was announced.
- This one crore additional PMUY connections (under Ujjwala 2.0) aim to provide deposit-free LPG connections to those low-income families who could not be covered under the earlier phase of PMUY.
- Along with a deposit free LPG connection, Ujjwala 2.0 will provide first refill and hotplate (stove) free of cost to the beneficiaries.
- Also, the enrolment procedure will require minimum paperwork.
- In Ujjwala 2.0, migrants will not be required to submit ration cards or address proof.
- A self-declaration for both ‘family declaration’ and as a ‘proof of address’ will suffice. Ujjwala 2.0 will help achieve the Prime Minister’s vision of universal access to LPG.
- Issue of refill and affordability: Several complaints of affordability was raised as a reluctance of adoption was shown. Many rural consumers have access to freely available biomass, making it difficult for LPG to displace it.
- 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:
- Encourage behavioural campaigns: ‘Give it up’ campaign, LPG Panchayat etc., have been remarkable in bringing in behavioural changes. Every LPG panchayat is expected to share the experience of early local adopters of clean fuel, an exercise on comparing the costs of alternative biomass fuels, safety demonstration and feedback on services.
- Regulate DBT and beneficiary identification: Target beneficiary expansion and identification must be carried out carefully to eliminate fake accounts and corrupt use of the scheme. Provide households exhibiting low consumption or a decline in LPG consumption over time with greater subsidy per cylinder to sustain health gains.
BPL is a person/ household who suffers from at least one deprivation under the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) – 2011 Database.
Can you answer the following questions?
- The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana has proved to be a boon for the poor women in India. Discuss.
- The PM Ujjwala Yojana lays the basis for a fundamental material transformation at the bottom of the pyramid. Elucidate.