- Schemes for the vulnerable sections of the society.
What to study?
- For Prelims: PMU- key features.
- For Mains: PMUY- objectives, features, significance and measures needed to sustain the momentum.
Context: According to a recent survey, most rural households with LPG (liquiefied petroleum gas) connections still use chulhas with firewood or dung cakes, to the detriment of rural health.
- About 85% of Ujjwala beneficiaries in four States still use earthen stoves- rural Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
- The resultant indoor air pollution can lead to infant deaths and harm child development, as well as contribute to heart and lung disease among adults, especially the women, cooking on these chulhas.
- Almost 70% of households do not spend anything on solid fuels, meaning that the relative cost of an LPG cylinder refill, even if subsidised, is far higher.
- Women are more likely to make dung cakes, and while men are more likely to cut wood, women are often the ones collecting and carrying it. The study argues that these women, who do the unpaid labour needed for “free” solid fuels, are not typically economic decision-makers in the household, hindering a shift to LPG usage.
About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aims to provide LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households.
Who is eligible? Under the scheme, an adult woman member of a below poverty line family identified through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is given a deposit-free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection by the Centre.
Identification of households: Eligible households will be identified in consultation with state governments and Union territories. The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
Key objectives of the scheme are:
- Empowering women and protecting their health.
- Reducing the serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuel.
- Reducing the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel.
- Preventing young children from significant number of acute respiratory illnesses caused due to indoor air pollution by burning the fossil fuel.
What makes LPG adoption necessary?
- A large section of Indians, especially women and girls, are exposed to severe household air pollution (HAP) from the use of solid fuels such as biomass, dung cakes and coal for cooking. A report from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare places HAP as the second leading risk factor contributing to India’s disease burden.
- According to the World Health Organization, solid fuel use is responsible for about 13% of all mortality and morbidity in India (measured as Disability-Adjusted Life Years), and causes about 40% of all pulmonary disorders, nearly 30% of cataract incidences, and over 20% each of ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and lower respiratory infection.
The PMUY is a bold and much-needed initiative, but it should be recognised that this is just a first step. The real test of the PMUY and its successor programmes will be in how they translate the provision of connections to sustained use of LPG or other clean fuels such as electricity or biogas.
Truly smokeless kitchens can be realized only if the government follows up with measures that go beyond connections to actual usage of LPG. This may require concerted efforts cutting across Ministries beyond petroleum and natural gas and including those of health, rural development and women and child welfare.
Sources: the hindu.