New Delhi: As many as 10 crore LPG consumers have joined the ambitious scheme of getting cash subsidy in bank accounts to buy market priced cooking fuel, making it the world's largest direct benefit transfer and helping end black marketing.
Congratulating the beneficiaries and officials for the task achieved in just over two months, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the scheme will "bring an end to black-marketing and subsidy will reach people more effectively. Its role in nation-building is important".
"(It) gives me great joy to know that over 10 crore citizens have been registered as a part of the PAHAL Yojana. A momentous accomplishment," he tweeted.
He said this makes Pahal Yojana among the largest cash transfer schemes in the world. The Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme for LPG subsidy, now renamed PaHaL or Pratyaksha Hastaantarit Laabh, covers more than 65 per cent of 15.3 crore LPG consumers in the country and has outpaced similar programmes in other countries such as China, Mexico and Brazil where the maximum beneficiaries touched was no more than 2.2 crore.
Under the scheme, LPG cylinders are sold at one price ie the market rate. Consumers get Rs 558 in their bank accounts so they can buy LPG at market rate of Rs 605 per 14.2-kg cylinder. Subsidized LPG currently costs Rs 417.
Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the scheme was launched on November 15, 2014 in 54 districts and in the rest of the country on January 1, 2015 is aimed at helping prevent diversions and blackmarketing of the subsidized cooking gas. It will help the government save 10-15 per cent of the Rs 40,000 crore LPG subsidy, he said. Pradhan said the government is looking at roping in 75 to 80 per cent consumers before the Budget session of Parliament begins on February 23.
"The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, which has provided bank accounts to almost all Indians, was process and PAHAL is a product (of that)," he said. The bank accounts opened under the scheme are used to transfer the LPG subsidy.