The Narendra Modi government’s thrust on subsidised LPG to women in rural households has helped the oil ministry shed its image of a profit-making wing into a social welfare one, Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan said here on Thursday.
“LPG has been so far seen as a commercial product in India and never considered as a catalyst for social change earlier,” Pradhan said adding that his government hopes to change this, bringing clean fuel to millions of households in the country.
The minister was speaking at the inaugural session of a two-day international conference on ‘LPG: a catalyst for social change’, which commenced here on Thursday. Experts from over 10 countries discussed the best practices on accelerating access to LPG and evolved strategies to create a thriving market for the clean fuel.
Quoting a WHO report, Pradhan said 15 lakh people die every year in the world due to indoor air pollution, with five lakh of them in India alone. “Indoor air pollution is responsible for significant number of acute respiratory diseases in young children. Traditional sources of cooking are causing indoor household pollution leading to serious health implications particularly on women and children. During the course of collection of these fuels, they face inclement weather, snakebite, bad terrain and backache. LPG is going to change all that,” the minister said.
Around 4 crore new households got LPG connections after the Modi government took over in 2014, raising the total number of families using LPG to 17.4 crore, a whopping 26 per cent, Pradhan said while talking about his ministry’s social welfare scheme Ujjwala, one of the Modi government’s biggest political initiatives.
The oil ministry is also preparing itself to create a SAARC grid by providing LPG to neighbouring countries. “Now we are providing LPG to Nepal and Bhutan. We are engaged in talks with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for supplying LPG. Slowly we are trying to connect the living standards of the neighbourhood with the LPG movement,” Pradhan added. Several African countries have already evinced interest in replicating India’s models of Pahal, Sahaj and Ujjwala, the minister claimed. Jharkhand governor Droupadi Murmu recounted her own troubled experience as a teenager as her village did not have access to LPG connection. Tom Compton JerseyShare This