The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, as part of its 100-day agenda, plans to achieve the target of issuing 8 crore liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) by August. The original target was May 2020.
At the same time, as LPG penetration nears saturation with 90% of households being covered, the ministry has issued guidelines to the oil marketing companies (OMCs) to improve the quality of service and delivery.
Under the PMUY, 7.25 crore connections have already been issued since the programme was launched in May 2015.
While initially it targeted to provide 3 crore LPG connections to below-poverty-line families by May 2018, the programme was expanded to 8 crore households by May 2020 owing to its resounding success.
The ministry has also asked the OMCs to increasingly improve the quality of service. “There have been complaints that people get SMS of booking a LPG cylinder when in fact they have not,” said a source. OMCs have been asked to come up with a mechanism, maybe through an app, to capture the location of delivery so that it can be matched with the original address of the connection holder.
For PMUY beneficiaries, distributors have been asked by the OMCs to create groups on WhatsApp to encourage them to go for refilling. While the national refilling average for PMUY beneficiaries is around 80%, it is quite low in some areas as many households find it difficult to buy a 14.2-kg cylinder.
In Delhi, a 14.2-kg cylinder comes for Rs 737 with eligible beneficiaries getting Rs 240 reimbursed in their bank accounts as subsidy. However, the upfront cost has proved to be a hurdle in many areas.
To solve the issue, the OMCs are giving the option that a beneficiary can exchange the 14.2-kg cylinder for a 5-kg cylinder. The smaller cylinder in Delhi at present comes for Rs 270 upfront with Rs 85 subsidy being refunded.
The petroleum ministry has also identified 10 districts with low refills among PMUY beneficiaries where OMCs are only providing 5-kg cylinders.
Distributors have also been asked to come up with innovations at their level to attract more refills. “They can think of maybe cash backs or loyalty schemes which will drive up their sales,” said another source.