Enhanced central subsidy on LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) refills supplied under the ‘Ujjwala’ scheme — one of the Narendra Modi government’s flagship welfare programmes — has rendered the clean cooking fuel cheapest in India as compared to countries in the neighbourhood, leading to gradual increase in consumption by poor households.
The average consumption of each household with Ujjwala connection has improved to 3.8 refills on an annualised basis in the April-October period from a little over three in 2019-20 and 3.7 in 2020-21, oil minister Hardeep Singh Puri informed the Rajya Sabha on Monday in response to questions raised by BJP MP Sushil Modi.
The increase in consumption can be linked to the Central subsidy rising to Rs 500 on each refill of 14.2 kg, or almost half the current cost of refills bought by households with general category connection. Each Ujjwala connection holder is entitled to 12 subsidised refills per year.
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Because of the subsidy, the effective price paid by a Ujjwala household for a regular refill of 14.2 kg works out to Rs 603 in Delhi. Rates vary marginally in other states due to difference in state levy. The comparable costs are Rs 1,059.46 in Pakistan, Rs 1,032.35 in Sri Lanka and Rs 1,198.56 in Nepal — almost same as general category consumers in India.
According to Puri, several other steps have been taken to encourage consumption of LPG, including the introduction of 5 kg double-bottle connection, option to swap from 14.2 kg regular refills to 5 kg and three free refills to Ujjwala beneficiaries under the 2020 Covid relief package.
Prime minister Modi had launched the Ujjwala scheme on May 1, 2016 from Balia in Uttar Pradesh with the objective of delivering energy justice to the economically weaker section through access to clean fuel. The scheme envisages giving LPG connection to poor households free of cost. The scheme has resulted in collateral.