Making it one of the most successful social-sector projects of the Narendra Modi-led government, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) has achieved its target to give cooking gas connections to 15 million families in 2016-17.
The scheme was launched on May 1 this year at Ballia in Uttar Pradesh with a target of providing connections to 50 million below-poverty-line families in three years, with a government support of Rs 1,600 per connection.
The Dharmendra Pradhan-led petroleum ministry has achieved the target of 15 million connections in December — a good three months ahead of schedule. According to the PMUY website, the ministry crossed 15,107,561 families on Thursday. Interestingly, about 30% of these connections are given to the poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
The government has allocated Rs 8,000 crore for the scheme in which connections are issued in the name of the women in those families. According to industry sources, the minister himself is overseeing Modi’s pet project, along with a team of officials in the marketing division led by joint secretary Ashutosh Jindal and deputy secretary K M Mahesh, with oil marketing companies reporting the developments of PMUY to the team on a daily basis.
Poll-bound Uttar Pradesh has got the highest number of connections with 4.5 million people benefiting from the scheme, followed by West Bengal with 1.95 million, Bihar with 1.9 million, Madhya Pradesh with 1.7 million and Rajasthan with 1.45 million connections. The ministry is likely to revise the target for this financial year now.
The government is also looking to invite the participation of private sector and other individuals to the scheme through PMUY Plus. According to the concept floated by Pradhan, private parties can pay for the subsidy of below-poverty-line families. According to the plan, the three oil marketing companies (OMCs) — Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and Bharat Petroleum Corporation — will form a society to run this programme.
While companies such as Saudi Aramco had shown interest in being a part of the project, even individuals like Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Mahesh Sharma had offered one month’s salary for PMUY. The scheme is followed by the success of ‘Give it Up’ campaign launched by the petroleum ministry through which 10.5 million people gave up their LPG subsidy.
Gathering impetus from PMUY scheme, the government has added 20.5 million LPG customers this year. “In the past two-and-a-half years, the government has been successful in adding 60 million LPG connections, while in the 60 years before that, only 130 million connections were added,” said a source close to the development.
According to petroleum ministry data, India currently has 191.1 million LPG connections, while OMCs added 16 million consumers in 2014-15 and 20 million in 2015-16.