To boost the corpus of the proposed Ujjwala Plus scheme for free LPG connections, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government may allow corporate donations for the scheme to be considered as mandatory corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending. “The legal and internal teams are working out the details to check which options can be included in the scheme,” an official from the ministry of petroleum and natural gas said, requesting not to be named.
The other options being looked at are providing benefit for individual donors under section 80G of the income tax Act and accepting international donations conforming to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act. Under Ujjwala Plus, free liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections will be provided to those certified below-poverty line families which were left out in the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011, and will not receive benefit under the government’s Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY).
Donations will be sought to provide LPG connections to beneficiaries. However, unlike PMUY, these beneficiaries will not get the connection along with equipment and have to pay for stove and refill. PMUY was launched in May 2016 at Ballia in Uttar Pradesh to provide clean source of cooking fuel to five crore households in the next three years. The first-year target of 1.5 crore beneficiaries was achieved within eight months of the launch of the scheme.
As per law, companies with turnover of at least Rs 1,000 crore, or Rs 5 crore in net profit, or net worth of Rs 500 crore, are required to spend 2% of the average net profit during the three preceding financial years to benefit the society through CSR activities. Some donations such as those for research and development at certain educational institutions also qualify under the arrangement. FE had earlier reported that the country’s oil marketing companies — IndianOil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum — are in the process of floating a not-for-profit organisation to administer the Ujjwala Plus scheme.
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FE had earlier reported that the country’s oil marketing companies — IndianOil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum — are in the process of floating a not-for-profit organisation to administer the Ujjwala Plus scheme.
“We have prepared and sent the SOP (statement of purpose) to the NITI Aayog and are waiting for its approval which is expected soon,” the official added.
The OMCs have formed a common account which will require a formal approval from their respective boards to receive donations. The ministry plans to provide 1 crore connections under the scheme which will require donations amounting to Rs 1,600 crore.
The ministry is hopeful that though Ujjwala Plus will not be as big a scheme as PMUY, it will still evince interest. “It is a voluntary scheme but we have got feedback that it will receive interest from various corners. We are not aggressively marketing it as of now as we need to firm up the structure first,” the official said.