Having provided 2.2 crore households with free LPG connections under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) launched a year ago, the National Democratic Alliance government may substantially increase the current PMUY target of reaching 5 crore beneficiaries by May 2019.
“There is a consensus in the government to increase the target of 5 crore but it will depend on the finance ministry’s allocation to the scheme,” said petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan in New Delhi on Friday.
PMUY was launched in May 2016 with the aim to provide free liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections to 5 crore women belonging to the below-poverty-line category according to the Socio-Economic Census 2011. Though the first year target of the scheme was to reach 1.5 crore beneficiaries, it was achieved within eight months of the launch.
The government has allocated Rs 8,000 crore for the scheme with each connection costing Rs 1,600.
Pradhan added that the total number of LPG consumers in the country has gone up to 20 crore, a coverage of 72% of households, from 14 crore in May 2014 when the Narendra Modi-led government assumed office.
There will a requirement of Rs 25,000-30,000 crore investment in augmenting and adding to the LPG infrastructure over the next few years.
The refilling rate among the PMUY beneficiaries is a healthy 85% with an average of 1.5 months taken for utilising one LPG cylinder, and 38% of the beneficiaries belong to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe categories.
The government has also added 4,600 distributors across the country in the last three years; however, it failed to achieve a target of appointing 10,000 new distributors in the last financial year, as reported by FE earlier. “The new distributors are being allotted in such a way that the distance between a consumer and nearest distributor will not exceed 7-10 km,” said Pradhan.
PMUY is currently active in 600 districts across the country and Pradhan will be visiting Assam later this month to start the process in state and rest of the northeastern states.
To promote the scheme, the government has organised around 1 lakh distribution melas across the country and 50,000 safety campaigns have also been held to educate consumers.