By: Avik Kumar Chakraborty
The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana(PMUY) was launched on May 13, 2017 at Chowkidinghee in Dibrugarh by Assam Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Union minister of State(I/C), Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan. Under the PMUY scheme, 30 women from the Below Poverty Level (BPL) were handed over connections of LPG.
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana which was launched by Prime Minister of India on May 1, 2016 at Ballia (Uttar Pradesh) to provide clean cooking fuel to the women belonging to the ‘Below Poverty Line’ (BPL) households across the country. PMUY aims to provide subsidized connections to 5 Crore BPL households by 2019 and is a part of larger program of adding 10 Crore new LPG connections by 2019. Most of the connections would be in the eastern part of India where domestic LPG penetration is less than the national average. The identification of BPL families will be made on Social Economic Caste Census (SECC)- 2011 data. WHO study also suggests that 5 lakh women die every year in our country on account of fumes generated by using non conventional sources of fuel.
Speaking on the occassion, Dharmendra Pradhan,Union minister of State(I/C), Petroleum and Natural Gas said Assam would avail the PMUY benefit without the Aadhaar Card. “For other state Aadhaar card has become mandatary to take the benefit but in Assam the people have not enrolled to Aadhaar so after some discussions we have decided that people from Assam will get the benefit without having Aadhaar Card,” the Union Minister said. He further added Government of Assam has come forward to contribute ` 1000/- per PMUY connections to the beneficiaries which should make LPG connection more affordable to the BPL household. Subsequent to the launched of the scheme on May1, 2016 at Ballia, several regional launches took place in the states of Gujarat, Rajashtan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, J&K, Maharashtra, Haryana and Punjab to expedite enrolment of more and more of beneficiaries in this scheme.
The beneficiaries should bear the LPG refill cost which would be around ` 650/- per cylinder. He said that Assam has approximately 30 lakh households and within two years 90 per cent of them will be covered. ” Oil Marketing companies will provide an option of interest free EMI to cover the cost of the first refill to the beneficiaries who are unable to bear this cost. The interest free EMI option aims at recovering the loan amount through the gas subsidy deposited in the bank account of the beneficiary from the subsequent refills,” Pradhan said. The Union minister added, “Over 2.20 crore LPG connections given in the first year of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana which surpassed the target of 1.5 crore for financial year 2016-17. Overall 3.25 crore LPG connections were given in 2016-17, highest ever in any given year and the total LPG consumer base in the country has increased to over 20 crore in 2017 from 14 crore in 2014,” .
Criticizing Congress government, Dharmendra Pradhan lambasted former Prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh for not providing the oil royality to Assam. “Dr Manmohan Singh was the elected MP from Assam but he failed miserably to raised the problems of Assam in the parliament. When Congress government was in power they did not release the oil royalty to Assam but after BJP came into power we have taken the matter seriously and recently our government have released ` 6, 320 crore oil royalty for the development of Assam.” Pradhan added. The Union minister instructed the oil companies to strengthen their Corporate Social Responsiblity(CSR) and work for the development of the people in Assam.
“Now Numaligarh oil refinery is producing 3 million metric tonne and our government is trying to enhance the production by 9 milllion metric tonne and we are also thinking to export the oil to Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal,” he said. He also said Digboi Oil refinery is one of the oldest refinery in Asia whose production capacity has weakened. “We are also thinking to upgrade the oil refinery,” he said.
Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal in his speech called upon the people of Assam to work hand in hand for the development of Assam and Northeast. “After the BJP came to power they are thinking seriously for the development of Northeast and sanctioning many developmental schemes for the region. Our Prime minister, Narendra Modi have instructed all the ministers to work hard for the development of the Northeast region,” Sonowal said. He added that poor people would be benefitted through this scheme. “I know how fumes create health hazard for the women of our country because I too have gone through that situation in the past. I’ve collected tree branches from the jungle of the Brahmaputra valley and cooked food with them,” CM Sonowal said while recalling his school days.