Fake websites mushroom around PM's flagship LPG scheme

Late last year, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas got a complaint from Satyendra Kumar, a resident of Uttar Pradesh. He claimed he had paid Rs 5 lakh to get a distributorship of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) through a website. 

It was then that the ministry started keeping an eye on the unofficial clones of the PMUY website, giving information and offering cylinders under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship scheme. According to officials, there exist at least half a dozen fake sites, masquerading as PMUY websites, which even come out with advertisements to collect money. The government has been forced to brand www.pmujjwalayojana.com as the “official” site and has approached the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY) to block the fake ones. 

“A website http://ujjwalargglvy.com was one of these, which started collecting money for the distributorship and used the emblems of the government’s ‘Give it up’ campaign,” said an industry source on the condition of anonymity. Interestingly, in a First Information Report (FIR) filed by Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL) in Lucknow on October 17 last year, it even mentions an advertisement that came out in Hindi daily Hindustan. 

Soon after this, the ministry took action, asking IOCL, Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) to keep a tab on the sites, which were using the government of India, the petroleum ministry, the Ashoka emblem and the PM's name to market themselves. 

The petroleum ministry has even approached MeITY, asking it to block sites such as  “http://www.pmujjwalayojana.in at 18,250 in India among all the websites, while the official website ranks 25,095 in the country. 

However, MeITY is yet to take a call on the issue. “The committee, set up by MeITY, examined and discussed the request and felt the  petroleum ministry may be requested to provide further justification, with regard to the specific conditions of section 69 A of the IT Act during the next committee meeting and, therefore, did not recommend blocking the URLs mentioned,” MeITY told petroleum ministry. 

Though http://ujjwalargglvy.com has already been blocked, oil marketing companies are still worried whether the remaining ones, which attract more traffic, will use these platforms to collect money in the future. 

PMUY was launched on May 1, 2016, at Ballia in Uttar Pradesh, with a target of providing connections to 50 million below-poverty-line families in three years. The government is providing Rs 1,600 per connection. So far, the government has given 21 million connections under the scheme. For the three years, the government has allocated Rs 8,000 crore for the scheme, in which connections are issued in the name of women in those families.

India is No. 2 LPG importer

India toppled Japan as the world’s second-largest importer of liquefied petroleum gas as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pledge to provide cooking gas cylinders to the poor drove up consumption. Imports of LPG, mostly used as cooking fuel, soared 

23 per cent during the last financial year to 11 million tonnes, according to data from the oil ministry’s Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell.


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