The government connects with the poor by putting money in the LPG accounts of Ujjwala

NEW DELHI: Ujjwala, Narendra Modi's social welfare program, has once again been helpful in connecting her government with the poor. The government will transfer the full cost of one LPG cylinder to the Rs 8.3 million account in advance for the fourth of each month through June so they can purchase the three free refills under a special package announced to help poor households make in front of the blockade.

The guidelines for implementing the scheme say that beneficiaries can use the advance payment to buy a cylinder until March 2021 in case they do not use the three free refills in the period from April to June. But the guidelines also say that each beneficiary will be entitled to only one cylinder per month and that there must be a minimum 15-day gap between the reserves. All Ujjwala beneficiaries have also been asked to register their mobile phones to enable verification codes to ensure that deliveries reach the intended homes.

On March 26, the Finance Minister announced the Rs 1.7 lakh crore relief package, which, among others, envisaged giving free cooking gas to poor households with LPG connections granted under it.

Ujjwala is the world's largest direct benefit transfer platform. It was launched in May 2016 from Balia, in UP, and plans to provide free LPG connection to GLP households (below the poverty line). The scope was later expanded to include other marginalized sectors of society. So far it has reached 8.3 million poor households, saving them from the harmful effects of smoke from traditional ovens that use firewood and animal dung cakes for fuel.

The scheme has also boosted LPG consumption in India, making it the world's second largest consumer of fuel in the domestic segment. But the report from the Comptroller and Auditor General in December 2019 set the average annual recharge consumption at 3.66 among beneficiaries who had completed one year as of March 2018. Such analysis for beneficiaries of 3.18 crore PMUY As of December 31, 2018, it was revealed that recharge consumption decreased to 3.21 recharges per year.

Free cylinder is expected to encourage recipients to switch to LPG in order to avoid leaving their homes, especially in urban and semi-urban areas. Delivering cylinders in such large numbers, especially indoors, could pose a logistical challenge due to the blockade, although LPG services have been exempt. LPG distributors deliver 50 to 52 lakh of cylinders daily across the country, and demand has increased by 15-20% in recent days as people turned to the panic replenishment reserve.

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