The ministry of petroleum and natural gas has already hit a record mark with over 3 crore liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections being distributed within 18 months of launching the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY). The ministry is now working to give an additional 3 crore connections on top of the 5 crore targeted earlier. In the first year itself, the scheme has surpassed its target of 1.5 crore connections with 2.2 crore connections issued. According to data till October 23, 2017, out of total issued connections, 44 per cent have gone to beneficiaries belonging to the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe categories. Given the costs involved, getting a LPG connection for a below poverty line (BPL) family was inaccessible, but the ministry made it possible by reaching the doorstep and making it accessible for the potential beneficiary.
The PMUY scheme has also brought smile to the face of Mangesh Raimal, who lives in Pimpalgaon, a remote village in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region. His mother Devkabai, who has spent most of her life cooking on smoke-filled chulhas, has received her first cooking gas cylinder under the scheme.
In addition to this, Raimal has also received a personal response from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a letter he wrote expressing his gratitude for the scheme.
Devkabai, like 140 million households in rural India, had to depend on chulhas (a clay stove that uses solid fuels like wood or cow dung). The smoke caused by these traditional cook stoves deteriorates the quality of air and puts at risk the lives of many, the women who spend a substantial amount of time cooking on it, and children who spend most of their time indoors around it.
But with PMUY, her life will be changed for the better.
In the letter, Modi talks about how he shared the feelings of mothers who had been saved the trouble of cooking on earthen chulhas.
“The earthen chulhas, lit in crores of households in the country, cause great harm to the health of women. The rich can afford to have the better facilities. But it remains a distant dream for the women living below the poverty line. Efforts are being made through the Ujjwala scheme to realise this dream,” the Prime Minister wrote.
According to Mangesh’s father Santosh Raimal, there was was no alternative to the chulha earlier, but now she does not have to suffer more.
Under Ujjwala, the government aims to give 50 million LPG connections to BPL families by 2019. For this, it has allocated Rs 8,000 crore. Uttar Pradesh has benefitted the most, with 5.8 million LPG connections by now, followed by West Bengal with 3.9 million connections.