Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas and Steel, during Business Today Mindrush 2019 event on Thursday, said while the Centre aimed to provide 80 million free LPG cooking gas connections to poor women by March 2020 under PM Modi's social welfare flagship scheme Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, it's consumption was lesser.
FULL COVERAGE:MindRush 2019
Accepting the findings of the recent Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, Pradhan said first there was a need to enhance the overall user base, following which the government was now focusing on increasing the LPG consumption. "When people get used to it, and it makes their life easier, the consumption is bound to increase," said Pradhan.
Pradhan's comments came after the CAG, in its performance audit to ascertain the implementation effectiveness of the scheme, said the rate of transition of below poverty line (BPL) households to the continued use of LPG remains a big challenge. The average refill consumption of 3.18 crore PMUY beneficiaries as on 31 December 2018, was just 3.21 times a year, it said.
The CAG report of the Performance Audit of PMUY (excluding e-PMUY), conducted for the period from May 2016 to December 2018, was laid in the Parliament on December 11.
The report said Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) issued 7.19 crore LPG connections, which is around 90 per cent of the targeted 8 crore connections by March 2020.
"Out of these 7.19 crore connections, 3.81 crore connections were issued under PMUY and 3.38 crore connections were issued under Extended-PMUY (E-PMUY). All India LPG coverage also increased from 61.9 per cent in May 2016 to 94.3 per cent in April 2019," the report said.
During the BT Mindrush event, Pradhan also talked about various initiatives taken by the Modi government for the welfare of the people. He said the BJP government had done electrification of over 3 crore houses in the past three years alone.
"Can you imagine over 3 crore people living without power even after 72 years of independence?" he said.
Talking about the current slowdown in the auto sector, Pradhan said there was no reduction in usage of petrol, though diesel consumption had seen some stagnancy. "In fact, petrol consumption has increased in rural areas due to an increase in consumption and expenditure," he said.