The Union Cabinet on Tuesday gave its nod for the reduction of the price of a domestic LPG cylinder by ₹200. The move comes ahead of Assembly elections in five States and the Lok Sabha election scheduled in 2024.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the move a “Raksha Bandhan gift” to the sisters of the country. The decision will be effective from Wednesday.
The Opposition, which has been attacking the Centre over high prices for cooking gas, said the decision is just a poll gimmick.
The Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry said it was a bold decision by the Prime Minister. The beneficiaries covered under Prime Minister’s Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) will continue to get a further subsidy of ₹200 per cylinder in their bank accounts. The Cabinet also approved 75 lakh additional Ujjwala connections. The number of beneficiaries under the scheme will rise to 10.35 crore.
The Ministry said the move will bring respite to households across the nation. “Effective August 30, 2023, the price of a 14.2 kg LPG cylinder will be reduced by ₹200 in all markets across the country. In Delhi for instance, the decision will bring down the cost of a 14.2 kg cylinder from the existing ₹1,103 per cylinder to a more affordable ₹903 per cylinder,” the Ministry said in a release. It added, “This reduction is in addition to the existing targeted subsidy of ₹200 per cylinder to the PMUY households, which will continue. For PMUY households therefore, the effective price in Delhi after this reduction will be ₹703 per cylinder.”
Mr. Modi said, “Our government will always do everything possible that improves people’s quality of life and benefits the poor and the middle class.”
There are more than 31 crore domestic LPG consumers in the country, including 9.6 crore Ujjwala beneficiaries. “These decisions come as part of the government’s ongoing efforts to ease the financial burden on citizens and promote the welfare of households. The reduction in cooking gas prices reflects the government’s commitment to prioritise the well-being of its citizens and ensure access to essential commodities at reasonable rates,” the Ministry added.
The Opposition, however, was critical and described the decision as an election gimmick. Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said the sudden slash is a result of the Karnataka rout of the BJP and the two “successful” meetings of the INDIA bloc formed by the Opposition parties. He said Congress governments in Karnataka and Rajasthan had announced further subsidies on LPG cylinders. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said if the Centre stopped collecting cess and surcharges on petroleum products, a cylinder would cost much less even without a subsidy.