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Ujjwala, the Modi government's flagship scheme for empowering BPL (below poverty line) women by providing clean cooking fuel, has halved the cost of LPG stoves to Rs 990 to ease the burden on poor households.
Top government sources said the reduction has been brought about through bulk procurement for the scheme, under which LPG connection would be provided free of cost in the name of women from five crore BPL households over the next three years.
The Rs 8,000 crore scheme was launched by PM Narendra Modi at Ballia in UP on May 1.
The government aims to cover 1.5 crore BPL households in the ongoing financial year. A sum of Rs 2,000 crore has been set aside for this purpose in the budget. The magnitude and scale he bulk procurement has of the bulk procurement has helped develop a safe, BSIcertified stove for use by BPL households. Reduced cost of stoves would ease the burden on households and help the government cover a larger number of BPL families for the money , the sources said.
Before Ujjwala, the government used the CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds of state-run fuel retai lers - IndianOil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum - to help poor households switch to LPG.
But under that scheme, the retailers would bear only the security deposit for a new connection. The BPL families had to pay Rs 250 for connecting pipe, installation and consumer booklet. In addition, they had to spend as much as Rs 2,000 for a stove.
Because of the limited funds and coverage, the initiative could benefit only seven lakh BPL households till 2014. Besides, all states did not benefit uniformly due to lack of focus on targeted areas. Ujjwala, in contrast, would focus on states with low LPG penetration. There are 14 states that have lower LPG penetration than the national average of 61%.
Ujjwala is also getting a leg-up from the PM's `Give it Up'. More than one crore housholds have surrendered LPG subsidy in response to the PM's appeal to economically well-off to leave LPG subsidy. In a back-to-back `Give it Back' scheme, some 63 lakh poor households have been given the subsidy till now. "The government is not keeping anything for itself.Subsidy saved is being given back to poor who deserve the benefit," the source said.
Use of LPG would help improve the health of women folk of BPL households that still use unhealthy fuels such as firewood and leaves, dried cowdung cakes, kerosene and coal. LPG would also reduce the time of cooking, allowing women more time for productive work.
The scheme is expected to create jobs through the appointment of 10,000 LPG distributorship and delivery chain.
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