New Delhi March 7: Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) which was launched in May 2016 to provide clean cooking fuel (LPG connection) to women in rural households has benefitted 97.4% households in the last 5 years. The scheme aimed to reach 8 crore households by 31 March 2020, however the government has been successful in achieving this well in advance. “The biggest challenge now is to encourage beneficiaries to ensure optimum usage of LPG,” said Shri. Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas at the workshop organized by MicroSave Consulting (MSC) on Achievements of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), today.
The indoor pollution generated inside the households due to burning of polluting fuels such as firewood, dung and coal for cooking causes many respiratory disorders and conditions among women such as pneumonia, lung cancer, and stroke among others. The impact of smoke is more severe in the case of children. PMUY is originally designed by taking into account this polluting fuel-smoke-health nexus and provides 50% subsidy towards the cost of new LPG connection and first refill.
While congratulating all women beneficiaries of PMUY for attaining the target of reaching 8 Crore beneficiaries seven months before the deadline Shri. Dharmendra Pradhan said, “I consider myself fortunate to be a part of this scheme and would like to thank 8 crore women who believed in us and trusted us. I would urge women to use LPG cylinders for cooking purposes and give away polluting fuels to reduce their and their family’s exposure to harmful smoke and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Smoke can cause irreversible damage to foetus which has a high social and financial cost to the family and the society.
We are working to ensure energy justice for all Indians. Energy affordability, sustainability, efficiency, security. LPG should be the catalyst of socio economic change in the country. I would like to congratulate MicroSave Consulting for organizing this event and bringing up the topic of women empowerment on the occasion of Women’s Day.”
Speaking at the session, Graham Wright, Group Managing Director, MicroSave Consulting (MSC) said that, “PMUY has made an extraordinary achievement by reaching 80 million households, which now have access to significant forms of cooking. He added that, “PMUY has differentiated itself from other DBT schemes through redistribution of the savings (elimination of duplicates and “Give it Up” campaign), precise targeting, and faster implementation. All of these integrated efforts have led to the estimated savings of US$ 9 billion to the exchequer. As a result, many other countries are learning and adopting the PMUY’s model of LPG subsidy.”
The discussions at the workshop’s first panel on “Key Lessons and perspectives from PMUY” highlighted that approximately 15%-20% beneficiaries may not be using the LPG at all in spite of getting a connection due to multiple barriers such as affordability, accessibility, and behavioral issues. Many of the poor households are dependent on seasonal income and hence there is a mismatch between income and payment cycle of refill of LPG cylinders. The expert panelists proposed to leverage the SHGs to provide micro-loans to women beneficiaries of PMUY to purchase the refill of LPG cylinder.
More than 60% PMUY households, especially in rural areas, don’t receive the home delivery of LPG connections and in absence of a personal vehicle, households especially women find it difficult to travel long distances to the LPG dealers with the heavy load of LPG cylinders. The experts urged the oil marketing companies (OMCs) to come up with an alternate model to LPG cylinders delivery in rural areas. They also added that behavioral biases such as better taste of food cooked on firewood and less awareness about women’s health also affects the uptake of PMUY in many cases. They further proposed that the innovative use of digital and mobile technology could help in enhancing the affordability (digital finance) and accessibility (operating the connection online) of LPG cylinders among rural women. The first panel had senior officials from MoPNG, Indian Oil, TERI, and GSMA.
The workshop’s second panel was focused on the impact of PMUY on the environment and the health outcomes of women and have senior representatives from Centre for Catalyzing Change, Institute of Economic Growth, Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, Jhpiego, and Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). The panelists mentioned that PMUY has helped cut the greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the smoke generated by burning the polluting fuels. The medial practitioners and the public health experts highlighted that the PMUY has been able to improve the surrounding environment and health condition of the poor women and they are now much less prone to get any respiratory tract infections and smoke-induced blindness. The panelists added that there is a need to conduct more rigorous studies to understand the multidimensional impact of PMUY on environment and health.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Manoj Sharma, Managing Director, MicroSave Consulting (MSC) mentioned that the PMUY is a game-changer scheme of Government of India that has laid the foundation of DBT in the country. He added that the government may consider increasing the subsidy support in PMUY to make the refill of LPG cylinders more affordable.
The workshop was also attended by PMUY women beneficiaries, LPG dealers, policymakers, officials from OMCs, think-tanks, and the private sector among others.