UPSC Mains 2019: Popularising cleaner cooking fuel

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna

 

Topic: Popularising cleaner cooking fuel

Topic in Syllabus: GS Paper 3- Indian Economy

Popularising cleaner cooking fuel

 

Context:

There are no short-cuts to get poor households across rural India to give up biomass such as firewood, crop residue and dung cakes as their primary cooking fuels in favour of cleaner ones such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), as the Centre has discovered after launching the ambitious Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.

 

Indoor Air Pollution:

  • The air within homes and other buildings can sometimes be more polluted than the outdoor air even in the largest and most industrialised cities. Indoor air quality is an important concern for the health and comfort of the occupants.
  • Indoor air pollution is the degradation of indoor air quality by harmful chemicals and other materials; it can be up to 10 times worse than outdoor air pollution.
  • The principal sources of indoor air pollution are: Combustion, building material, and bioaerosols. While radon, asbestos, pesticides, heavy metals, volatile organic matter, and environmental tobacco.
  • In India, out of 0.2 billion people using fuel for cooking; 49% use firewood; 8.9% cow dung cake; 1.5% coal, lignite, or charcoal; 2.9% kerosene; 28.6% liquefied petroleum gas (LPG); 0.1% electricity; 0.4% biogas; and 0.5% any other means.
  • The incomplete combustion products of biomass fuels include suspended particulate matter, carbon monoxide, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, polyorganic matter, formaldehyde, etc.

 

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:

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.

 

Need of this scheme:

  • In India, the poor have limited access to cooking gas (LPG).
  • The spread of LPG cylinders has been predominantly in the urban and semi-urban areas with the coverage mostly in middle class and affluent households.
  • There are serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuels.
  • According to WHO estimates, about 5 lakh deaths in India alone due to unclean cooking fuels. Most of these premature deaths were due to non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.
  • Indoor air pollution is also responsible for a significant number of acute respiratory illnesses in young children.
  • According to experts, having an open fire in the kitchen is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour.
  • Providing LPG connections to BPL households will ensure universal coverage of cooking gas in the country. This measure will empower women and protect their health.
  • It will reduce drudgery and the time spent on cooking. It will also provide employment for rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas.

 

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.
  • PMUY is likely to result in an additional employment of around 1 Lakh and provide business opportunity of at least Rs. 10,000 Cr. over the next 3 Years to the Indian Industry.
  • Launch of this scheme will also provide a great boost to the ‘Make in India’ campaign as all the manufacturers of cylinders, gas stoves, regulators, and gas hose are domestic.
  • Ensuring women’s empowerment, especially in rural India, the connections will be issued in the name of women of the households. Rs. 8000 Cr. has been allocated towards the implementation of the scheme.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna

 

Target beneficiaries:

  • Under the scheme, five crore 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.
  • BPL is a person/ household who suffers from at least one deprivation under the Socio-Economic Caste census (SECC) – 2011 Database.
  • While the selection of beneficiaries would be from the BPL families only, preference would be given to SC/ST and weaker sections of society. While providing the new connections to BPL households, priority would be given to the States which have lower LPG coverage (compared to the national average) as on 1st Jan, 2016.
  • Release of LPG connection under this Scheme shall be in the name of the women belonging to the BPL family.
  • The Scheme would be implemented over three years, namely, the FY 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 across the country.

 

The Government has also decided to cover the following categories under the Scheme:-

  • All SC/STs households beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana(PMAY) (Gramin)
  • Antyoday Anna Yojana (AAY)
  • Forest dwellers
  • Most Backward Classes (MBC)
  • Tea & Ex-Tea Garden Tribes
  • People residing in Islands
  • People residing in river islands.

 

Implementation modalities of the scheme

  • A woman of the BPL household, which does not have access to LPG connection may apply for a new LPG connection (in the prescribed format) to the LPG distributor.
  • While submitting the application form, the woman will submit details, like Address, Jandhan/ Bank Account and Aadhar number (if the Aadhar number is not available, steps would be taken in coordination with UIDAI for issue of Aadhar number to the woman of BPL household)
  • The LPG Field officials will match the application against SECC – 2011 database and, after ascertaining their BPL status, enter the details (name, address etc) into a dedicated OMC Web portal through a login/ password given by the OMCs
  • OMCs will undertake electronically the de-duplication exercise and other measures for due diligence for a new LPG connection
  • The connection shall be issued by the OMC to the eligible beneficiaries (after completion of various stages above).
  • While the connection charges would be borne by the Government, the OMCs would provide an option for the new consumer to opt for EMIs, if she so desires, to cover the cost of a cooking stove and first refill. The EMI amount may be recovered by the OMCs from the subsidy amount due to the consumer on each refill.
  • OMCs will also organize Melas’ at various locations for release of connections to BPL families. This will be done in the presence of public representatives and distinguished personalities of the area.
  • The scheme will cover BPL families under all forms of distributorship and for various sizes of cylinders (like 14.2 kg, 5 kg, etc.) depending on f the field situation.
  • Benefits under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana has been extended to people of all Hilly States including NE States by treating them as ‘Priority States’. This step will effectively address the difficulty faced by poor people residing in the States of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tripura in accessing LPG for cooking purposes.

 

Benefits to the citizens:

  • Under the scheme, five crore LPG connections are to be provided to BPL households.
  • The Scheme provides a financial support of Rs 1600 for each LPG connection to the BPL households. The administrative cost of Rs. 1600 per connection, which includes a cylinder, pressure regulator, booklet, safety hose, etc. would be borne by the Government.
  • This subsidy is intended to cover the security fee for the cylinder and the fitting charges. The beneficiary has to buy her own cooking stove.
  • To reduce the burden, the scheme allows beneficiaries to pay for the stove and the first refill in monthly installments. However, the cost of all subsequent refills has to be borne by the beneficiary household.

 

Challenges:

  • While the number of LPG connections across India has increased by an impressive 16.26% since the scheme was launched, the use of gas cylinders increased by only 9.83%. This is even lower than the rate recorded in 2014-’15, when the scheme did not exist, according to data from the government’s Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell.
  • This difference between the increase in the number of connections and the sale of cylinders is a consequence of the fact that many people with new connections are not buying refilled cylinders after their first one runs out.
  • The long waiting time to get a refill for an empty LPG cylinder was the second-highest reason for those wary of adopting LPG.
  • Persuading households to stop using firewood and traditional biomass fuels that have the potential to cause respiratory diseases.
  • Limited LPG distribution networks in rural areas
  • The absence of residential proof or a lack of interest by urban dealers to serve them also poses a barrier.
  • A recently published study called ACCESS by the Council for Energy, Environment and Water across six cities shows, a large number of households stack LPG and biomass.
  • Only a small proportion of these households use LPG alone for cooking.
  • Affordability of refill and difficulty in getting a refill are the reasons for this scenario.
  • In rural India many households are using biomass such as firewood, crop residue and dung cakes as their primary cooking fuels which are much affordable for them.
  • The CEEW study across Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha found people were unwilling to pay upfront Rs.900-1,000 for a 14 kg refill but would pay about Rs.300 for a refill which is about the price of refilling a 5 kg cylinder.
  • It also ignores that that most rural women do not have a say in determining when a refill is ordered, even though the connection is in their name.

 

Sample Question:

Recently UN says “Indoor pollution in India contributes up to 52% air pollution”, discuss the reasons for indoor pollution and examine the steps taken by the government to address the issue.