LPG scheme closed, but only 3 States have gone kerosene-free

Left out:Large segments of people in various Statesstill use kerosene and wood for cooking.  

A parliamentary committee has said only three States and five Union Territories have become kerosene-free, though the government last September met the target of eight crore LPG connections under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.

The report of the Parliamentary Committee on Petroleum, which was tabled last week, points to the gap between the continuing use of kerosene and the claim of 97% LPG coverage nationwide. The committee is headed by BJP member Ramesh Bidhuri.

The allocation for the scheme has been cut down by 58% from Rs. 2,724 crore during 2019-20 to Rs. 1,118 crore during 2020-21. The Petroleum Ministry informed the committee that the government had met the target on September 7, 2019, and 96.9% coverage had been achieved nationwide, except in Jammu and Kashmir. The Ministry said the scheme was no longer running, and the present allocation was meant to meet the arrears in the reimbursement of expenditure.

The 97% coverage has been calculated on the basis of the number of households — it stands at 2,850.5 lakh as on February 1 this year — and the domestic LPG consumers, at 2,772.2 lakh.

The committee was upset at the closure of the scheme, and said there was still a lot of ground to cover. “There are poor households in the general category in urban and semi-urban localities that also need to be covered. The committee, therefore, recommends that the scheme be extended to poor households in urban and semi-urban slum areas and achieve a higher LPG coverage of the population by providing connections to households that do not have LPG,” the report said.

At the same time, the committee said, large segments of people in various States still depended on kerosene for cooking and household lighting. The Ministry has justified the low number of ‘kerosene-free’ States and Union Territories, saying their consent is critical. Karnataka, Telangana, Haryana, Nagaland, Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh and Puducherry have gone for a voluntary cut.

Only three States — Haryana, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh — and the Union Territories of Delhi, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Dadar & Nagar Haveli, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Puducherry have become kerosene-free.