The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Scheme to provide gas cylinders has failed to fulfill its goal of helping poor women get rid of harmful smoke from mud-stoves. During the launch, the government publicized it with a slam-bang. However, the ever-increasing LPG cylinder prices have left the scheme merely on paper.
The current price of an LPG cylinder in the open market is ₹1003. Regardless, the Ujjwala scheme gives a subsidy of ₹200 that the beneficiary receives in their bank account. In the last two years, the cylinders available under the Ujjwala scheme have increased by more than 45%.
Under the scheme, the Gujarat Government provided many families with gas connections. However, rural women returned to conventional cooking methods when the gas rates upsurged. Due to the rise in gas cylinder rates, the beneficiaries halted its use.
LPG Cylinders: Showpiece In Households
Sonal Gamit, an Ujjwala Yojana beneficiary, said, “I liked using the gas cylinder. But, the price increase made it challenging to get it refilled. For us, ₹800 is a lot. Two years ago, a regular cylinder was available for ₹450. However, now its just a hoax.”
Manju, another beneficiary, used the cylinder only for a month. She said, “It is cheaper to use the hearth for cooking than purchasing a cylinder. Cylinders empty very fast. We, common people, cannot afford to cook on a regular stove. We also have to consider the budget of the house.”
Cylinders Found Everywhere Except For Stoves
Magna Patel, whose husband drives an autorickshaw, said, “The government provides gas cylinders we cannot afford. We received the stove and cylinder under the scheme. We also used it until the cylinders went out of budget. But, now we are back to basics.”
Magna’s opinion is the reality in most rural areas. We can find cylinders in corners, roofs, and a pile of wood. It is also noteworthy that they have become a symbolic presence in most households.
Domestic Gas Rates Rose Six Times In One And A Half Year
Domestic gas prices increased by six times in 2022. After the increase on August 16, 2021, the cylinder was ₹872.5. Then, on October 1, 2021, it became ₹897.5. Again, the cylinder prices increased to ₹912.5 on March 21, 2022, and to ₹962.5 in April.
Gujarat spokesperson Dr. Manish Doshi calls it ‘government propaganda.’ He said, “Along with the cylinder, the Modi government has also increased stove prices. His government does not care about the citizens. However, he is only concerned about his industrialist friends.”
He accused the government and said, “They are running on the basic mantra that I will eat, but I will not let others eat. Stoves, cylinders, and food items are becoming more and more expensive.”