In an unprecedented move for the welfare of poor women particularly in rural areas, the Union Budget 2016 on Monday allocated Rs 2000 Cr to provide LPG connections to 1.5 crore women belonging to the below poverty line (BPL) families during the year 2016-17. The LPG connection will be in the name of women member of the poor household.
The Scheme will be continued for at least two more years to cover a total of 5 crore BPL households. Terming the Budget announcement as historic, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Hon’ble Minister of State (I/C) Petroleum and Natural Gas said the Scheme Ujjwala will not only have immense health benefits for the women and their children by providing a clean cooking fuel, but also provide significant ecological dividends.
According to WHO estimates, about 5 lakh women die in India due to unclean cooking fuels. Most of these premature deaths are due to non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.
Shri Pradhan conveyed his deep gratitude to the Hon’ble Prime Minister and Hon’ble Finance Minister for this decision. He said that this is a wonderful Budget gift from Prime Minister to the women, particularly in rural areas. This is the first time in the history of the country that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas would implement a welfare scheme benefitting crores of rural women.
Christened as Ujjwala, the scheme provides a financial support of Rs 1600 for each LPG connection to the BPL households. The identification of eligible BPL families, as proposed in the Budget for 2016-17, will be made in consultation with the State Governments and the Union Territories. While providing the new connections to BPL households, priorities would be given to the uncovered States and pockets, particularly in the Eastern region of the country. This will be done in consonance with the vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister for development of Eastern India.
The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has already got many feathers in its cap in providing LPG services. With 15.2 crore customers enrolled in Pahal, it is the world’s largest cash transfer programme. The unique Giveitup programme has already more than 75 lakh households to its credit, who have voluntarily given up subsidy. The Year 2015 was the year in which new LPG connections were given to 50 lakh rural households, the highest ever in India’s history.