Union Government is committed to enhance LPG penetration in the country with special focus on eastern and north-eastern states and has earmarked an initial fund of Rs 2,000 crore this year for the purpose.
Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said West Bengal and Meghalaya, besides Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha and other eastern and north-eastern states was top on government’s priority to increase LPG penetration, as the LPG penetration was low in these states. During 2014-15, government increased new LPG connections to 1.6 crore and during the current year government to raise the new LPG connections to over 2 crore and want to push it further to 3 crore connections.
With adequate LPG cylinders available for distribution in towns and cities, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has decided to extend the facility to rural and remote villages of the region. As of February 1, 2015, 4,183 agencies had been commissioned as part of the plan to take LPG to rural India. Nearly 9.5 million of 17.8 million LPG consumers are now in rural areas, according to the corporate communication department of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, a public-sector oil company.
How Rural India Suffers without LPG?
142 million rural Indian households that use firewood and other solid fuels, such as animal dung, charcoal, crop waste and coal, as their primary source of household energy. The soot so generated quietly darkens the skies above India, shortens life spans–including 100,000 children who die prematurely every year and 171 who are still-born–disrupts the monsoons and threatens the Himalayan snows. About 1 million deaths occur annually in India due to household air pollution caused by fumes from cooking, heating and lighting activities.
Women and young children are the most affected by the health problems associated with exposure to cookstove smoke, with more than 100,000 children in India dying every year, as a result of acute lower respiratory infections, including pneumonias, caused by soot from solid fuels.
With more and more people realizing that the subsidy given on LPG is meant for economically weaker sections of the society, particular those belonging to BPL category, 66130 LPG consumers of Manipur have offered to surrender subsidies given on LPG refills. Until December 2015, over 52 lakh people across the country are reported to have given up access to subsidised fuel voluntarily.