Slum households still using polluting fuels despite govt's LPG push: Study

Topics Slums | LPG | Cooking gas

The survey covered 656 households across 83 urban slums, notified and non-notified, in 58 districts.
Many urban slum households in six states do not use LPG (cooking gas) exclusively and depend on a mix of polluting fuels, according to a recent study by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

The study said that only half of the urban slum households in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, use LPG exclusively. This is despite 86 per cent of urban slum households in the six states having an LPG connection.

“The six states account for nearly a quarter of India’s urban slum population. Further, 16 per cent of the households are still using traditional fuels such as firewood, dung cakes, agriculture residue, charcoal, and kerosene as their primary fuel and over a third are stacking LPG with these polluting fuels. This increases exposure to indoor air pollution for such households,” the CEEW study said.

The findings are based on CEEW’s Cooking Energy Access Survey 2020 conducted in urban slums across the six states. The survey covered 656 households across 83 urban slums, notified and non-notified, in 58 districts.

“While the six states covered in the survey have the highest percentage of households covered under the scheme, only 23 per cent of slum households had Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) connections. Despite PMUY, about 12 per cent of the urban slum households do not use LPG and rely on polluting fuels entirely,” the study said.

An Indian Oil Corporation release, however, said LPG has emerged as the preferred kitchen partner for almost every Indian and the LPG penetration in India has improved from 55 per cent in 2014 to more than 99 per cent as on March 10, 2021. 

  • 55 per cent households use LPG exclusively
  • 33 per cent use LPG with polluting fuels
  • 12 per cent just use polluting fuels
  • 58 per cent households don’t get door step delivery of cylinders
Source: CEEW Study

"It is notable that the improvement in the overall LPG consumption has continued for the three-month period December 2020-February 2021 and has registered a growth of 7.3 per cent for all domestic LPG customers (PMUY+non-PMUY). LPG consumption amongst PMUY customers registered a growth of 19.5 per cent, from 845,310 tonne in the comparable period in the last fiscal to 1,010,054 tonne in the current fiscal for the said three-month period. Compared year-on-year, the overall domestic LPG sales have registered a handsome growth of 10.3 per cent during the current fiscal (till February 2021)," said the release.

“As part of the next phase of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), the government must target poor households without an LPG connection in urban slums. Policymakers must also nudge oil marketing companies and distributors to improve home delivery of LPG refills in slum areas to increase exclusive use of LPG,” said Arunabha Ghosh, Chief Executive Officer of CEEW.

“Also, as the LPG refill prices rise, the government must target vulnerable households – beyond PMUY beneficiaries – with differential subsidy support for using LPG in a sustained manner,” said Ghosh, referring to the high price of LPG cylinders.

Shaily Jha, Research Analyst at CEEW and lead author of the study, said, “A significant share of the urban slum population is struggling to afford using LPG for all their cooking, especially due to the rising fuel prices and the economic impact of the pandemic. Further, given that the number of Ujjwala beneficiaries living in urban slums is low, majority of slum households remain ineligible for relief support in the form of free cylinders under the PM-Garib Kalyan Yojana.”

Indian Oil, however, claimed that while the upfront per kg cost of firewood is cheaper, LPG is a more economical fuel in the long run when costs such as total volume of fuel consumed and handling costs are factored in. 

"Even at the current rates, LPG is cheaper than firewood/ other traditional fuels in many states, largely on account of its overall heating efficiency," it said.  

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