LPG price escalation

Context:

A recent study sheds light on the prevalent dependence on fuelwood in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal, despite government initiatives to promote Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). This reliance underscores concerns about sustainability and the need for accessible alternatives.

Relevance:
GS-02 (Polity, Government intervention and policies)

Key highlights:

  • Environmental and Social Implications: Dependence on fuelwood contributes to forest degradation and increases the risk of human-wildlife conflicts, particularly encounters with elephants. This jeopardizes forest health, wildlife habitats, and local livelihoods.
  • Economic Constraints: The high cost of commercial LPG cylinders, priced at over Rs 1500, is considered prohibitive for many households, particularly those below the poverty line.
  • Government Initiatives: While schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) facilitated the transition from fuelwood to LPG initially, subsequent increases in LPG prices have posed challenges.
  • Sustainable Alternatives: Collaborative efforts with the West Bengal Forest Department and Joint Forest Management Committees aim to promote sustainable forest management practices. Initiatives include planting saplings of high fuelwood value, promoting efficient cooking stoves, optimizing shade tree density in tea plantations, and fostering multi-stakeholder engagement for resource governance.
  • Reliance on Forests for Fuelwood: Local communities in Jalpaiguri heavily rely on forests for fuelwood due to limited access to alternative cooking fuels.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY):

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) is a flagship scheme by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas aimed at providing clean cooking fuel like LPG to rural and deprived households, reducing their reliance on traditional fuels.

Objectives:

  • Empowering women and safeguarding their health.
  • Decreasing deaths caused by unclean cooking fuel.
  • Preventing respiratory illnesses in children due to indoor air pollution.

Features:

  • Provides Rs 1600 financial support for each LPG connection to BPL households.
  • Offers deposit-free LPG connection, first refill, and a hotplate free of cost.
  • Eligible beneficiaries receive a free LPG connection and subsidy on refills.
  • Option for EMI facility and joining the PAHAL scheme for direct subsidy transfer.

Phases:

  • Phase I: Launched on May 1, 2016, aimed to release 8 Crore LPG connections by March 2020, increasing LPG coverage from 62% to 99.8%.
  • Ujjwala 2.0: Additional 1 crore LPG connections targeted by March 31, 2022, achieved in January 2022. Additional 60 lakh connections released under Ujjwala 2.0, totaling 1.6 Crore connections by December 2022.