The NDA government is likely to announce the launch of Ujjwala Plus, which is meant to increase the coverage of its scheme for free LPG connection to the poor on the upcoming Independence Day. Ujjwala Plus is the next step of the government’s Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) which provides free liquefied petroleum gas connections to women belonging to the below-poverty-line category as per the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011. However, according to the ministry of petroleum and natural gas, there are many eligible families which are left out of the SECC due to technical reasons and the objective of Ujjwala Plus is to extend the benefit to such families as well. Unlike PMUY which is funded by the government, individuals and organisations will be allowed to make donations for Ujjwala Plus. Though the Ujjwala Plus scheme was in the works for some time now, the announcement comes on the back of the flagship PMUY achieving its first-year target of 1.5 crore beneficiaries within eight months of the launch of the programme. PMUY was launched in May 2016 at Ballia in Uttar Pradesh.
The ministry held an internal meeting last week to finalise the road map for the launch of Ujjwala Plus.
The government has allocated `8,000 crore for reaching 5 crore beneficiaries in three years under PMUY. Under the new scheme too, beneficiaries will be given a subsidy of `1,600 for an LPG connection and the remaining amount of the total cost of around `3,100 will have to be borne by the beneficiary. However, if an individual wants to donate the full amount for a particular beneficiary, she/he will be allowed to do so. Bulk donations will be used for other beneficiaries identified by the petroleum ministry.
Donations will have to be made to a bank account jointly opened by the country’s oil marketing companies — IndianOil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum — which have floated a joint venture (JV) to create a not-for-profit body to execute the scheme.
“The account is with Mumbai-based State Bank of India and `6 lakh has already been donated,” said an official, adding that the JV is in the process of applying to the Registrar of Companies. Donations made towards the scheme will be eligible to get tax exemption under Section 80G of the Income-tax Act and foreign contributions will also be accepted under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.