April 20, 2018, was celebrated pan-India as ‘Ujjwala Diwas’ under the aegis of the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan. ‘Ujjwala Diwas’ saw the successful organization of 15000 LPG panchayat(s) across the country on one single day. The LPG Panchayats witnessed the congregation of beneficiaries and facilitated the release of new LPG connections, pan-India.
All LPG Panchayats were driven by the presence of PSU Oil Company Senior Officials and their LPG distributors with local dignitaries attending who highlighted the importance of usage of clean cooking fuel with regard to health, economic, safety, environment benefits. Each Panchayat had targeted participation by 500 women with a goal of enrolling at least 100 new LPG beneficiaries. Safety Literature (Safety Instruction and Insurance cards) were also distributed during the Panchayat sessions.
By creating a special observation day, MoP&NG through its PSU Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) successfully promoted amongst the rural consumers, the safe and sustained use of LPG through peer group interactions on a large scale. The Ujjwala Diwas also aimed at meeting the enhanced target of enrolling 8 crore LPG beneficiaries and the Panchayats provided new LPG connections to eligible beneficiaries. LPG Panchayat is a community meeting which serves as a platform for LPG consumers to interact with each other, promote mutual learning, and share their experiences. Each LPG Panchayat aims to bring together about 500 women from the neighboring areas, thus providing a platform for Ujjwala LPG users to share information on how to use LPG safely, as well as spread the message of its multiple benefits, like health, environment and empowerment of women. Women who have experienced the benefits of cooking with LPG can now boost the confidence of other women about adopting this clean, green cooking fuel safely and without any reservations or misconceptions. Sharing of experiences by actual users and learning through peer group interaction is the main aim of LPG Panchayats.
With nearly 22.5 crore active LPG customers in the country today, the LPG penetration in the country has increased from 61% in May 2016 when the Hon’ble Prime Minister launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) at Balia to 81% today.
The initial target of PMUY was to enroll 5 crore beneficiaries from BPL families by 2019. However, encouraged by the enthusiastic response to the scheme, which saw the enrolment of 3.6 crore beneficiaries, Hon’ble Prime Minister enhanced the enrolment target to 8 crore beneficiaries by 2020.
The event created awareness about the safety and utility of LPG, health benefits of using clean fuels as well informed the women participants about the details of expanded PMUY categories.
Ujjwala Diwas also saw the formal announcement of the ‘Extended Ujjwala Yojana’ to meet the stiff targets, wherein other than SECC list, PMUY connections shall also be provided to beneficiaries of PMAY (Gramin) and Antyoday Anna Yojana; Forest dwellers; SC/ST households; women from Most Backward Classes; Tea and Ex-Tea Garden tribes; and people residing in islands and river islands.
Hon’ble Union Minster for Petroleum & Natural Gas & Skill Development, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, announced the national launch of the extended Ujjwala Scheme at Darbhanga (Bihar) today in the presence of Shri Nitish Kumar, Hon’ble Chief Minister, Bihar; Shri Ram Vilas Paswan, Hon’ble Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution; and Shri Sushil Modi, Hon’ble Dy. Chief Minister, Bihar.
Emphasizing on the need to have an extended PMUY scheme, Shri Pradhan said, “Previously, only those in the SECC list were able to benefit from the scheme. We have added new categories to expand LPG coverage.”
Shri Nitish Kumar, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Bihar, said that the PMUY is a revolution that has ushered in a social change by empowering women and is also a step towards environment conservation as it promotes LPG as a clean kitchen fuel. Shri Nitish Kumar said “The awareness campaigns for safe and sustained use of LPG, including the various LPG Panchayats held today on Ujjwala Diwas, is commendable.”