Using PNG, biofuel for cooking may soon get cheaper, subsidy proposed

Do you use piped natural gas (PNG) or biofuels to cook? Your monthly bill could get cheaper. The government is considering a subsidy for all fuels that "are used for cooking". At present, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) users and kerosene users enjoy such a subsidy. 

Government think-tank Niti Aayog is working on a proposal to replace LPG subsidy with cooking subsidy in order to extend the benefits to people using PNG and biofuels for cooking purposes, a top official told news agencies on Sunday.   

What is the Niti Aayog's exact plan?

Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said subsidy should be applicable for all fuels that are used for cooking. 

"Niti Aayog is working on a proposal to replace LPG subsidy with cooking subsidy. LPG is a specific product, the subsidy should be for a larger set of all products/fuels which are used for cooking." Kumar told news agency PTI in an interview. 

"(For) all fuels which are used for cooking, the subsidy should be applicable. Because if there are some cities where PNG (Piped Natural Gas) is used, then it is only logical that the subsidy is extended to them also," added Kumar.  

What is the situation at present?

All LPG consumers have to buy fuel at market price. However, the government subsidises 12 cylinders of 14.2 kg each per household in a year by directly transferring the subsidy amount to the users' bank accounts.  

What happens next?

The changes pertaining to cooking subsidy are likely to be incorporated in the draft National Energy Policy 2030. The draft was made public last year.

After inter-ministerial consultations, the policy would be taken up by the Cabinet. 

Will clean fuels get a leg up?

Kumar's comments also come against the backdrop of apprehensions in certain quarters that subsidy only for LPG users is inhibiting the adoption of clean and cheap fuels such as biofuels in rural areas and PNG in urban areas.