State-run oil companies enrolled a record three crore cooking gas consumers in 2016-17, about twothirds of them from poor families, as part of the government drive to shut hazardous smoke from the kitchens of those who had not yet had access to clean cooking fuel.
The government has mandated oil companies to add 10 crore new cooking gas customers between April 2016 and March 2019. Half of the new connections have to go to poor households under the government’s Ujjwala Yojana. “When Modi ji took over as prime minister, the country had 14 crore active LPG consumers, which has today expanded to 19.80 crore. So, we have achieved 5.8 crore in less than three years,” oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said.
“When we formed government, it used to be less than 1 crore new connections a year,” he said, adding that 3.16 crore connections had been given by March 24. This exceeds the 2016-17 target of 3 crore connections and is way ahead of 1.77 crore new customers added in 2015-16.
About two crore new customers in 2016-17 were poor women.
The rapid expansion means 71% of Indian households now have access to cooking gas, compared with 56% in April 2015.
Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum have been rapidly rolling out the government plan to take clean fuel to more and more households, especially in the traditionally-disadvantaged eastern states. Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha are some of the states with least access to cooking gas. With just 30-40% cooking gas coverage, these states are far behind Delhi, Punjab, Kerala and Goa, which have above 100% coverage.
The government’s Ujjwala Yojana, which offers subsidised connection to the poor, has been crucial in raising access to cooking gas in the past fiscal year. “The successful implementation of Ujjwala has renewed poor people’s faith in the government,” Pradhan said.
The increased consumer base also helped boost domestic cooking gas consumption by 10% in 2016-17. This rapid expansion has come with its own set of challenges, the biggest of which is to let supply infrastructure keep pace with the increased customer demand. A 6.2% growth in number of cooking gas distributors between April and December 2016, fell far short of the 17% expansion in active customer base in the same period. Rollie Fingers Authentic JerseyShare This