The Union Budget 2019 is likely to focus on its target of achieving 8 crore LPG connections and provide easy access to cooking gas or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to all households before the end of this year. The original target was May 2020. Under the PMUY, 7.25 crore connections have already been distrbuted since the programme was launched in May 2015. The government plans to add another 1-2 crore new LPG connections to cover all poor households and increase access to cooking gas to 100 per cent of the country's households from present level of about 89 per cent.The scheme which was launched on May 1, 2016 was initially aimed at providing clean cooking fuel to 5 crore women from poor households over a period of three years. A sum of Rs 8,000 crore was allocated for the same.
However, former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had in the 2018-19 Budget allocated an additional Rs 4,800 crore and increased the target to 8 crore households.
In December 2018, the government decided to cover all poor households that further increased the number of new connections by 1-2 crore. The scheme originally targeted giving free LPG connections to mostly rural women who were below the poverty line (BPL). The list was later expanded to include all SC/ST households, forest dwellers, most backward classes, inhabitants of islands, nomadic tribes and tea estates among others.
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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. Meanwhile, the beneficiary has to buy her own cooking stove. However, to reduce the burden, the scheme allows beneficiaries to pay for the stove and the first refill in monthly instalments. Nevertheless, the cost of all subsequent refills has to be borne by the beneficiary household.
The most number of 1.31 crore connections under the PMUY have been given in Uttar Pradesh. West Bengal comes second with 80.83 lakh connections released, followed by Bihar at 79.46 lakh. As many as 64.89 lakh connections have been given in Madhya Pradesh and another 57.93 lakh in Rajasthan, 42.65 lakh in Odisha and 40.98 lakh in Maharashtra.
Edited by Aseem Thapliyal