Adding more beneficiaries will put more pressure on India’s LPG imports. The country already imports 55% of its LPG usages, according to the official data.
PM Modi launched Ujjwala 2.0, the second edition of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana at Mahoba in Uttar Pradesh that will go to the polls in 2022. In 2016, the first edition was launched in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the assembly elections held in 2017.
India has eased the scheme rules in the second edition of Ujjwala Yojana, intending to benefit more poor people by providing them free and easy gas connection, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced yesterday in a video conference.
He has said that the scheme will help the usage of gas connections deeper in rural India during the launch event. “Ujjwala Yojana has led to a manifold expansion of LPG gas infrastructure. During the last six-seven years, more than 11,000 LPG distribution centers have been opened,” Modi said at the event.
What Is New In Modi Ujjwala Scheme 2.0?
The provision of the Ujjwala Scheme 2.0 was announced by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting the 2021-22 Union Budget. She had said that the government wants to add one crore LPG connections under the scheme that were not covered under the previous phase. The connections also aimed to provide deposit-free LPG connections to low-income families.
In the run-up of the first edition, Ujjwala 2.0 has relaxed the procedure to add more people, especially rural poor and migrant workers. Now, migrants can apply for the connection with self-attested documents. They do not require any aadhar card or ration card. The enrollment process requires minimal paperwork.
This amendment to the existing rule was necessary as people could not apply for the first edition due to a lack of required documents. Firstpost reported that women could not avail the benefits without aadhar cards in states like Uttarakhand. Similarly, migrant workers have lost everything during covid and their tedious journey to home. However, there is no clarity on whether people who have already avail of gas connection under the Ujjwala scheme and did not refill their gas cylinders can still avail of the benefits under the update. The new edition will also provide hot plates or gas stoves and the first refill free-of-cost.
The last day of the application filing on the official website is not available yet.
Adding more beneficiaries will put more pressure on India’s LPG imports. The country already imports 55% of its LPG usages, according to the official data. The scheme only entails the first cylinder for free, not subsequent cylinders. The mode of how this scheme is going to function is not released yet.
Under the first scheme, the government has paid INR1600 to the oil manufacturing companies (OMCs) to provide free connections to below poverty line households. The companies also gave loans free of interest to the eight crore beneficiaries.
But as mentioned, no further refills were made due to rising gas prices. The second edition did not take any measures to ensure the continued use of gas stoves. Lack of connectivity also fuels the situation. According to the various health surveys conducted across India, rural women still prefer to cook on woodfires and other primitive methods.
Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL) and other OMCs have observed a rise in the credit risk for certain loans provided under the Ujjwala Scheme. As the loans paid by these companies for the first connections were to be recovered by the subsidiaries given by the government from the second refill onwards, it is not clear how OMCs plan to recover the loan. Guidelines to mitigate the crisis were not released during the launch ceremony of the second edition.
The Indian government has stopped paying subsidiaries since May 2020. Therefore, it is doubtful that how BPL people will continue buying cylinders.
Congress On Ujjwala 2.0
Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala has raised his concern on how poor people will refill cylinders for INR800. He tweeted, “Today LPG price in Mahoba, UP ₹ 888 per cylinder which is in Congress government ₹ was 400.”
Surjewala further asked Modi to refrain from campaigning and provide INR 400 to the poor under the scheme in his tweet.
Why was Ujjwala 2.0 launched in UP?
Unlike the previous election, the 2022 elections also have a lot of women voters. These women voters are now breaking the tradition to vote on their own. This scheme has helped BJP to win the 2017 polls. Similarly, the announcement to include one crore beneficiaries have aided BJP’s win in Bihar. Bihar had 85 lakhs beneficiaries.
This year, state polls will be fought based on development and governance issues in Uttar Pradesh. The state government is already on the back burner in women protection after Hathras and Unnao rape case. Ujjwala Scheme will help to win the trust of poor women.
According to the data in the government websites, UP has the highest number of beneficiaries with 1.5 crore users. It has led to the further expansion of the scheme in the state.