Nearly 86 per cent of over 7.25 crore persons who got free cooking gas connections bought a second LPG refill, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Monday as he sought to counter the narrative that beneficiaries of the scheme not returning after exhausting their first bottle.
Highlighting achievements of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), he said average per capita consumption of PMUY beneficiaries is around 4.87 cylinders in a year.
"Oil marketing companies (OMCs) have reported that nearly 86 per cent of PMUY beneficiaries who are at least one year old have returned for the second refill," Pradhan said in written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha.
The use of LPG by PMUY beneficiary household depends on several factors, which include food habits, cooking habits, availability and accessibility to LPG, price of LPG, free availability of firewood and cow dung, he said.
To encourage the PMUY beneficiaries to adopt and use LPG on a sustained basis, oil firms are offering smaller 5 kg cylinder, which costs less, in place of traditional 14.2 kg cylinder.
A 5-kg LPG refill costs about Rs 263 as compared to Rs 494.35 for a 14.2-kg cylinder.
Pradhan said of the 26.43 crore LPG connections in the country, 7.25 crore have been released under the PMUY.
Under PMUY, poor women household members get a free LPG connection but subsequent refills have to be bought by the beneficiaries.
He said 3.62 crore connections were released under the PMUY in 2018-19 as compared to 1.56 crore in the previous year.
This compared with 2 crore PMUY connections target for each of the year set by the government.
He quoted the World Health Organisation saying that the PMUY was a measure to tackle and reduce air pollution from particulate matter.
"In just two years, India's Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Scheme has provided some 37 million women living below the poverty line with free LPG connections to support them to switch to clean household energy use," he quoted WHO as saying.
OMCs, he said, have given instructions to their LPG distributors to release LPG connections after satisfying and meeting all the safety norms for installation of LPG connections.
The most number of 1.31 crore connections under the PMUY have been given in Uttar Pradesh. West Bengal comes second with 80.83 lakh
connections released, followed by Bihar at 79.46 lakh. As many as 64.89 lakh connections have been given in Madhya Pradesh and another 57.93 lakh in Rajasthan, 42.65 lakh in Odisha and 40.98 lakh in Maharashtra.