Since the inception of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), LPG coverage grew at a quick pace and reached almost all households by April 2019. But a significant number of the scheme's BPL beneficiaries did not use the service beyond the initial refill, mostly due to economic reasons. As a result, a large number of dormant cylinders have been diverted for commercial use.
Household LPG connections grew at a sedate pace before PMUY was introduced in May 2016. Following the implementation of the scheme, overall household LPG coverage grew swiftly to reach 94.3% as on April 1, 2019
Despite wide coverage, LPG refills ordered by consumers have been constantly declining in recent years. In 2018-19, refills consumed on an average reduced to 2.98 instances per year from 3.4 per year in 2017-18. LPG consumption by BPL families with existing connections was estimated to be 3-4 refills per year.
Of the 3.18 crore PMUY consumers who had an LPG connection for one year or more as on December 31, 2018, 17.4% never ordered a second refill and 33.15% ordered only 1-3 refills per year. This indicates that more than half the beneficiaries consumed less than the national average of 3.21 reflills.
Even as half the beneficiaries ordered less than 4 refills a year, about 2.98 lakh customers with a single cylinder connection ordered 2 to 20 refills in a day. Such high level of consumption is impossible in a domestic connection and is only possible in commercial set-ups such as restaurants indicating that there might have been diversions of connections towards commercial use.
Towards commercial use
A survey of 1,662 beneficiaries, conducted between April 2016 and December 2018, showed that 35.44% reverted to traditional fuels mainly due to higher price of LPG refills and easy availability of traditional fuel which is considered "unclean".