Modi says 10 cr LPG connections given in 4 yrs against 13 cr
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said 10 crore LPG connections including 4 crore free to poor women, were given in last four years, compared to 13 crore in six decades since independence, as his government stepped up efforts to shield women and children from kitchen smoke.
Interacting through video-conference with some of the women beneficiaries who received free cooking gas connection under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Modi recounted his own childhood when his mother struggled with smoke emitting from cooking on firewood or cow dung, to say his government will increase coverage of clean fuel to 100 per cent households in the near future.
“Till 2014, only 13 crore LPG connections were given. These were mostly to rich and affluent class. In the past four years, we have given 10 crore new LPG connections, mostly to poor,” he said.
“Ujjwala Yojana has strengthened the lives of the poor, marginalised, dalits, tribal communities. This initiative is playing a central role in social empowerment.”
Launched in May 2016, the scheme aims to provide in next three years as many as 5 crore free cooking gas connections to women from extremely poor households, aimed at reducing the use of polluting fuels such as wood and dried cow dung that, according to the World Health Organization, cause 1.3 million premature deaths in India every year.
The target was raised to 8 crore this year by adding two additional years. India aims to increase liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) usage to cover 80 per cent of its households by March 2019, against 72.8 percent in 2017. The Prime Minister did not give a date for achieving 100 per cent coverage.
Modi said LPG is the cleanest and easily available source of energy that is giving women a healthier lifestyle, saving them time, helping them financially and saving the environment. As many as 45 per cent of the four crore free LPG connections given under Ujwalla are to dalits, he said.
Stating that his government stood for empowerment of the dalits, the Prime Minister said more than 1,200 petrol pumps have been given to dalit families since 2014 as compared to 445 retail outlets given to such families during 2010-2014 period of the previous UPA regime.
Similarly, 1,300 families got LPG distributorship as compared to 900 in the previous years. The government, he said, is very serious in eliminating middlemen and so the beneficiary list has been made transparent.