• Petroleum ministry to enhance safety measures for first time domestic cooking gas consumers

    To ensure safety of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) consumers covered under the government’s Pradhna Mantri Ujjawal Yojana (PMUY), the ministry of petroleum and natural gas is rethinking safety measures related to use of cooking gas cylinders for beneficiaries, most of whom are first-time users. With the aim to provide cleaner cooking fuel to move towards a gas-run economy, PMUY was launched by the National Democratic Alliance government on 1 May 2016 in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh. The government plans to provide 50 million LPG connections to BPL women in the next three years, with 15 million connections to be distributed in the current financial year. According to the official website of PMUY, 638 districts across 18 states have been covered till date with 10,140,075 connections already been provided.

    “There were a lot of complaints from the end-consumers and distributors regarding safety issues. Apart from launching a campaign to make the users aware and educate them about the use of gas cylinders, we are also in talks with the supply side of the value chain to ensure better safety precautions. The gas pipes which are used shall also be examined in a better way now,” said a petroleum ministry official requesting anonymity. The government in a statement on 9 November said the petroleum minister had informed that a massive safety awareness campaign will be carried out over a period of four months starting November to educate all LPG consumers on importance of safety norms.

    The finance ministry has allocated Rs.20 billion for the current financial year for implementation of the scheme. A total budgetary allocation of Rs.80 billion has been made for the next three years. “We are working to improve safety measures. We recently increased the insurance amount as well,” said another petroleum ministry official who also did not want to be named. The Narendra Modi-led government’s stress on cleaner sources of fuel comes in the backdrop of India ratifying the Paris climate deal on 2 October. The country also wants to increase natural gas’ contribution to 15% of the total energy mix from a current level of 6.5%.

    Queries emailed to the spokesperson of the petroleum ministry on 20 November remained unanswered. According to experts, safety measures are of utmost importance. “We need to understand who the beneficiaries are. Also, gas usage anyway requires a certain bit of precaution,” said Sanjay Grover, partner at EY, a consultancy. According to the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell, as on 1 April 2016, there were 17,916 LPG distributors and 201.79 million domestic LPG customers registered with oil marketing companies. A subsidised 14.2kg domestic cooking cylinder at present cost Rs.430.64 in New Delhi whereas the actual cost is Rs.895. Dan Girardi Jersey

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