Centre is eyeing investment of Rs 30,000-crore to expand LPG production and distribution network in the country in next three years as per a PTI report. During the fiscal ended March 31, 2017, a record number of 3.45 crore LPG connections were distributed including 2.2 crore free connections to poor women, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan was quoted as saying by the news agency.
According to him, at least 6 crore connections were distributed last three years, with LPG now reaching 72.84 percent of the total population of the country. The minister also said that when the NDA Government formed the government in May 2014, the LPG coverage was just over 50 per cent in the country.
The PTI report further said that the Centre plans to increase LPG coverage as it wants to reduce usage of polluting firewood and liquid fuel for cooking purpose.
What has caused this massive distribution of free cooking gas connections to below poverty line (BPL) women is the the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. The government, under the scheme, bears the cost of Rs 1,600 for the connection.
“PMUY was launched on May 1, 2016 with a target to provide 5 crore connections in three years. The first year target was 1.5 crore. But we have done 2.2 crore connections in the first year,” he was quoted as saying by PTI as saying.
Dharmendra Pradhan further pointed out that even though his ministry planning to increase the target of free LPG connections but a decision will be taken after discussion with the finance ministry.
The Petroleum ministry has set the target of 3 crore connections which include 1.5-2 crore under PMJY during the 2017-18 fiscal and another 4 crore next year, which will help take LPG connections to cover coverage to 95.49 percent of the population in the country, the news agency report said further.