On May 1, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch an ambitious Rs 8,000 crore scheme to provide 5 crore free LPG connections to BPL families using the money saved from 1.13 crore cooking gas users voluntarily giving up their subsidies. He will launch the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana at Ballia in Uttar Pradesh on May 1 and do a repeat at Dahod in Gujarat on May 15.
According to The Economic Times, though the ‘Give-it-Up’ campaign seeking the well-heeled to voluntarily surrender cooking gas subsidies for one year was launched in January, 2015, the PM on March 27 last year officially launched the programme. “Since the launch, 1.13 crore people have given-up LPG subsidies and are buying cooking gas at market price,” Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told reporters here.
Maharashtra tops the list with 16.44 lakh consumers giving up subsidies. Uttar Pradesh saw nearly 13 lakh users give up subsidies, followed by Delhi (7.26 lakh). Prime Minister’s home state of Gujarat was way down the list with just 4.2 lakh giving up subsidies. Pradhan’s home state of Odisha was even lower at 1.3 lakh.
Consumers are currently entitled to 12 cylinders of 14.2 kg each or 34 bottles of 5 kg each in a year at subsidised rates. A subsidised 14.2-kg cylinder is currently available at Rs 419.13 per bottle in Delhi while the 5-kg pack costs Rs 155. Market-priced LPG is available at Rs 509.50 per 14.2-kg cylinder. Giving up subsidised LPG will help cut the government’s subsidy bill, which was at Rs 30,000 crore on the fuel last fiscal. Nearly Rs 5,000 crore of subsidy saved through the campaign is being used to provide LPG connection to the poor. “We have released 60 lakh new connection to poor in the last one year,” said the Oil Minister.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had in his Budget for 2016-17 provided Rs 2000 crore to provide deposit free LPG connections to 1.5 crore women belonging to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families. Further, the Budget announced that the Scheme will be continued for two more years to cover 5 crore households.