State-run oil firms fulfil 94% of goal to provide free LPG connections | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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State-run oil firms fulfil 94% of goal to provide free LPG connections

ByRajeev Jayaswal, New Delhi
Mar 14, 2024 08:56 AM IST

State-run oil companies have already distributed over 94% of the 7.5 million free cooking gas connections it was to deliver to poor households following a September 2023 Cabinet decision -- way ahead of the envisaged deadline of March 31, 2026 -- two officials aware of the matter said.

State-run oil companies have already distributed over 94% of the 7.5 million free cooking gas connections it was to deliver to poor households following a September 2023 Cabinet decision -- way ahead of the envisaged deadline of March 31, 2026 -- two officials aware of the matter said.

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Till March 12, public sector oil marketing companies (OMCs) distributed more than 7.08 million connections to poor households, and this number is expected to touch the target by the end of this financial year, the officials added, requesting anonymity. The government could consider raising the 7.5 million target once the number is achieved, they indicated.

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The Union Cabinet on September 13, 2023 extended the second version of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY or Ujjwala 2.0) for the release of 7.5 million new liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections over three financial years -- 2023-24, 2024-25 and 2025-26. This target was over and above the 96 million PMUY households that had already availed of the benefit.

“Cumulatively, OMCs have now already crossed 10.30 crore (103 million) connections under the scheme and they are expected to achieve the target of 10.35 crore (96 million crore plus 7.5 million) connections well in advance -- by the end of 2023-24 or by early 2024-25,” one of the officials cited above said.

The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), or Ujjwala, was first launched in Ballia in Uttar Pradesh by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 1, 2016 to provide clean cooking fuel to 80 million poor households. The target was achieved on September 7, 2019, six months ahead of March 31, 2020 deadline. Ujjwala 2.0 was then launched from Mahoba district in Uttar Pradesh in August 2021 with an initial target of 10 million connections, which was achieved by January 2022. Subsequently, the government extended it to six million more connections, which was achieved by December 2022. In September 2023, another extension was given to the scheme to cover 7.5 million additional households.

Under the scheme, beneficiaries receive a deposit-free gas connection, a stove, and the first 14.2kg cylinder free of cost. Every such connection costs roughly 2,200 to the exchequer, which is initially borne by OMCs with the government reimbursing them later.

Cooking gas is a a politically sensitive fuel in India.

Last week, with the 2024 general elections set to be announced any day now, OMCs reduced cooking gas rates for all customers by 100 per 14.2 kg cylinder as the Prime Minister’s gift to 320 million households on the International Women’s Day. The move came a day after the Union Cabinet extended the 300 subsidy to PMUY beneficiaries on every cooking gas refill for one more year till March 31, 2025.

An adult woman from a poor household that does not have an LPG connection is eligible for coverage under the Ujjwala 2.0 scheme. A special focus of the scheme is on Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) households, beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), and Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) scheme,s forest dwellers, most backward classes, and tea garden tribes.

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