SHILLONG, June 19 - Meghalaya having one of the lowest LPG connections in the country was today brought under the ambit of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY). Twenty-four beneficiaries were given free LPG connections on the occasion.
Just 6.32 lakh or 23 per cent of the households in the State have LPG connection. The national average of LPG connection is 74 per cent, Dipankar Ray, Executive Director of Indian Oil, said.
Majority of the households in Meghalaya are dependent on fuel like wood, charcoal and kerosene for cooking purposes. Ray said the challenge would be to first bring Meghalaya�s LPG connection close to 49 per cent, which is the average in the North East.
PMUY aims to provide LPG connections to five crore BPL households by 2019. It is a scheme to provide clean cooking fuel to the women belonging to �Below Poverty Line� (BPL) households across the country. The identification of BPL families is made based on Social Economic Caste Census, 2011 data. PMUY scheme provides assistance of Rs 1600 to the woman beneficiary, comprising security deposit for 14.2 kg cylinder and domestic pressure regulator, hose, domestic gas consumer card and installation charges.
Union Minister of State for Railways, Rajen Gohain said during the distribution that 1.11 crore citizens in the country gave up their LPG subsidy till March 2016. A substantial amount of the Rs 8000 crore allotted for PMUY was made from the subsidy that was given up by the citizens through the Give-it-Up scheme, the Minister added. He appealed to the citizens to give up their subsidy on LPG cylinders.
Citing the benefits of PMUY, Gohain said, it would benefit not only the womenfolks, but would also bring in Rs 10,000 crore business as most of the cylinders and other accessories are being produced locally.
Meghalaya Health Minister Roshan Warjri said having access to LPG connection is a gender issue as traditionally women are in-charge of cooking throughout the country.
Lauding the PMUY as a programme that directly addresses the sufferings of poor women managing kitchen and household, especially in rural areas, Warjri said, the programme would improve the health condition of women and also reduce drudgery of collecting firewood.
�40 years back when LPG connection was brought to my home, I was scared. Therefore, the Oil Marketing Companies and distributors should raise customer awareness regarding the utility of LPG as cooking fuel and dispel fear,� the Minister said.
Presently, 46 distributors are catering to LPG consumers in Meghalaya. Introduction of six new LPG distributors are in the pipeline to meet the surge in LPG demand in the State. Setting up of a LPG bottling plant in the State is also being discussed, officials said.