The culture of projects getting delayed in spite of tall promises have changed since the Modi government came to power. Some of the ministries such as Power, Transport, Petroleum and Natural Gas have completed some of their projects before the deadline. The power ministry increased the renewable energy target from 175GW to 225 GWs. The Transport ministry completed the Delhi-Meerut highway before the target time period. Now, the petroleum ministry has achieved its target to provide Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) connection to 5 crores Below Poverty Line (BPL) families before the deadline.
On 1st May 2016, PM Modi launched Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh. Under this programme, 5 Cr LPG connections were to be provided to BPL families with a financial support of Rs. 1600 per connection in the next 3 years. With the clear intent of empowering women, the connections were to be issued in the name of women of the households. 8000 Cr budget was earmarked for this project. According to a report by Times of India, the government will complete its target of giving LPG connections free of cost to five crore poor households across 715 districts on Friday. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan is expected to hand over the Ujjwala Connection No. 5 Crore to the selected beneficiary at a function in Parliament in the presence of Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. So, the government will meet the target almost 9 months before the deadline.
The scheme was launched to provide clean energy to marginalized people of India who still use firewood, dung cakes, coal, or kerosene for cooking. India is home to more than 24 crore households out of which around 10 crore households are still deprived of LPG as cooking fuel. According to WHO estimates, about 5 lakh deaths in India occured due to unclean cooking fuels. Indoor air pollution is also responsible for a significant number of acute respiratory illnesses in young children. According to experts, having an open fire in the kitchen is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour.
The money for the scheme came from the highly pitched #GiveItUp campaign under which crores of families gave up their subsidies. After that, the LPG subsidies were linked to JAM (Jan-Dhan, Aadhar, and Mobile) accounts which helped the government to eliminate fake/duplicate customers.
The Ujjwala coupled with the rural electrification scheme Awas Yojana (Gramin), Antyodaya Anna Yojana beneficiaries is expected to deliver good political dividends for the Modi government. These schemes have helped the marginalized section of the society. More than 44% of Ujjwala beneficiaries are from SC/ST communities so the scheme is yielding a social dividend by safeguarding the health of women and children in poor households. The state of Uttar Pradesh where the maximum number of families got benefited by the scheme voted the party with a full majority in 2017 Vidhan Sabha elections. BJP will be hoping for same political dividends in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections through its welfare schemes.
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