The government on Monday extended Ujjwala Yojana of providing free cooking gas (LPG) connections to all poor households, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said.
The scheme, launched in 2016, originally targeted giving LPG connections to mostly rural women members of below the poverty line (BPL) households. The list was later expanded to include all SC/ST households and forest dwellers among others.
The scheme is now being extended to all poor households.
Pradhan said the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved expanding the scope of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to cover poor families not having LPG connections and not covered under the existing beneficiary categories.
The step will further increase penetration of LPG to 100 per cent households, he said.
Under the scheme, the government provides a subsidy of Rs 1,600 to state-owned fuel retailers for every free LPG gas connection that they give to poor households. 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 instalments. However, the cost of all subsequent refills has to be borne by the beneficiary household.
"Considering several representations received from various quarters, now, poor families who could not get LPG connection under PMUY are now eligible to get a connection subject to fulfilling the eligibility norms and furnishing required documents," he told reporters after the CCEA meeting.
The PMUY was launched on May 1, 2016, to provide 5 crores free LPG connections in three years. The target was expanded to 8 crores in five years.
So far, 5.86 crore LPG connections have been released, he said adding that 48 per cent of the beneficiaries are SC/STs.
LPG coverage presently extends to close to 90 per cent of the population and the expansion will help take the coverage to all households, he said.
While previously the connections were given based on the 2011 Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC), the list was later expanded to include providing free cooking gas connection to all SC/ST households, forest dwellers, most backward classes, inhabitants of islands, nomadic tribes, tea estates and beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and Antyodaya Yojana. Now, it has been extended to all poor, he added.
The World Health Organisation hailed PMUY as decisive intervention by the government to facilitate the switch to clean household energy use, thereby addressing the problems associated with Indoor Household Pollution.