Energy is the base for life. In fact, the very foundation of the civilizational setup has been based on the accidental discovery of fire- one form of energy. The importance of energy for all living beings especially human settlement can’t be doubted. In the progressive framework of the world civilization, energy has been playing a vital and diverse role and its usage is spread far and wide intruding all sectors of human settlement. Realising the importance of energy, especially for the household sector, various Non-Aligned Nations have been working to make accessible and affordable energy for all, a prerequisite in their respective initiatives. India, under the leadership of Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, has been working to come to terms with the demand of the energy, especially by the household sectors.
Amidst the various flagship programmes of the Modi-led government, the scheme that has crossed the mark of appreciation is the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana(PMUY) that has benefitted the country folks not in thousands but in crores by proving free cooking-gas connection to the poor households. Recently, the number of beneficiaries under the scheme has crossed about six crores that have directly or indirectly transformed the lives of poor people and is serving to be an agent of change.
The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was launched on 1st May, 2016 with an intent to transform the energy consumption pattern of the country by providing affordable and accessible clean cooking fuel to 5 crore women from households classified as BPL under the Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 over a period of three years with a budgetary allocation of Rs 8,000 crore. Seeking success, the scheme has already released 3.57 crore LPG connections. The scheme has eventually passed the earlier target of 50 million families and now with an additional allocation of Rs. 4,800 crore in the latest budget aims to benefit about 80 million poor families by 2020. Brining the statistics to 3.6 crore new BPL families as subscribers for an expensive product like LPG in the duration of 26 months is a commendable job.
India has been an important carrier of the principles and ethics of the Non-Aligned movement and keeping with its ideals have stressed on relying on clean and sustainable source of energy. India’s rural landscape till recent times have been engulfed in the smoke of firewood’s and other sources of fuel, but with the coming of the scheme the entire rural and urban centres of India have witnessed a massive transformation. It has not just aided in making clean fuel a thriving reality but also prevented several hazardous diseases especially respiratory one caused by inhaling the kitchen smoke and even limits the difficulties of the poor who have been venturing into unsafe areas to collect firewood. The initiative is a stepping stone for India that could be instrumental in burnishing its clean energy authorizations.
As per data, LPG coverage across India has increased to 80%, compared with around 62% before the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. As on April 1, 2018, there were an estimated 27.72 crore households in the country and 25.68 crore households have an LPG connection. That is almost 93% coverage (46.4% of the registered domestic customers had double cylinder connections). The numbers of the statistics are quite impressive by all benchmark and have surpassed the success story of all pre-existing Central and State schemes. The most intelligent step to make the PMUY a humongous success and a financially viable option, was the infusion of the government funds as well as the availability on an alternative payments method that guaranteed the cost of a stove/hot plate and the connecting hose pipe with the repayments adjustable against the LPG subsidy on refills. Both the designing of the scheme as well as its implementation have created a separate milestone and an example to be followed by other similar flagship programs of the government.
To cover a wider spectrum of households, the scheme apart from the BPL families, has been opened to all Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe households, beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and Antyodaya Anna Yojana, forest dwellers, “most backward classes,” tea garden and ex-tea garden tribes, and people residing in islands or river islands. The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana has been a success story inspiring other developing and underdeveloped nations to look up to it as a model programme and who aspire to bring similar positive change in their respective society.