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Four out of 10 households in urban slums of Nagpur use chulha for cooking: Survey

A survey conducted by Warrior Moms, a countrywide mothers’ network, and the Centre for Sustainable Development (CFSD) has found that 4 out of 10 households in the slums of urban Nagpur use chulhas for cooking and heating even though most of them have LPG connections.

Written by Rupsa Chakraborty | Mumbai |
July 1, 2022 12:04:04 pm
forgotten recipes indian food, forgotten dishes indian food, indian food recipes, indian recipes, republic day, republic day indian food recipes past, indian express, indian express newsThere was poor awareness among people about schemes delivering access to clean cooking fuels including the much-touted Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY). (Source: File Photo)

POONAM MARKAM, a 20-year-old daily wager from Siddheshwari slums in Nagpur, cooks on a domestic chulha (brick stove) to feed her family of five. The nine-month pregnant woman with a meagre monthly income of Rs 8,000 can’t afford to refill an LPG cylinder every month. This has left her and her unborn child at severe health risk due to the inhalation of the toxic fumes.

Poonam’s case is just a representation of the hardships that women in the urban slums of Nagpur undergo while cooking for their families in the absence of affordable clean fuel.

A survey conducted by Warrior Moms, a countrywide mothers’ network, and the Centre for Sustainable Development (CFSD) has found that 4 out of 10 households in the slums of urban Nagpur use chulhas for cooking and heating even though most of them have LPG connections.

The survey was conducted across 12 slum colonies of urban Nagpur and involved 1,500 households. It found that 43 per cent of the respondents use both LPG and chulha while 57 per cent of respondents use only LPG. About 7 per cent of respondents said that they use only chulhas. Of this, 81 per cent of respondents, who use a chulha said that they experience coughing compared to 23 per cent of respondents, who use only LPG. Similarly, 65 per cent of respondents using chulhas suffer eye irritation compared to 18 per cent using only LPG as cooking fuel.

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“The respondents using chulha gather firewood, which is mainly the job of the women in the households and reported spending anywhere between 4 and 5 hours every week for the activity. Most families reported increased use of chulha during winters to meet the additional requirement of heating water,” reads the report.

Those who buy firewood spend between Rs 100-Rs 400 every month, which is much cheaper than the current monthly rate of around Rs 1,000 for an LPF cylinder refill.

The study cited several reasons behind the households continuing with the usage of biomass for cooking and heating. Lack of awareness about schemes for clean fuel and the advantages of switching to LPG, unaffordability of LPG cylinders with the growing costs of refills, cultural norms concerning food taste such as the food on chulhas tastes better and to meet the additional fuel needs for heating water during the winters when it gets cold were some of the common reasons behind the use of biomass as cooking fuel.

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There was poor awareness among people about schemes delivering access to clean cooking fuels including the much-touted Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY). Less than 3 per cent of the respondents having an LPG connection reported having received it under the PMUY scheme while the remaining respondents, especially the ones who use chulhas were unaware of the scheme.

Leena Buddhe, founder-director, CFSD said, “This report should serve as a wakeup call to the government and we hope that the action plan to control air pollution in Nagpur prioritises shifting to clean fuel for cooking and allocates appropriate budgets to tackle the issue.”

Based on the study, the organisations have suggested to the government to provide subsidies for LPG and other alternatives that would work for the women and reduce the financial burden. “Some of the cleaner alternatives, including smokeless chulhas and electric chulhas running on solar panels can be tested and scaled up across the state,” reads the recommendations.

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When The Indian Express spoke with medical experts, they claimed that indoor air pollution is dangerous compared to outdoor air pollution, which can not only cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) — a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs but also led to other diseases like tuberculosis, allergies, dry eye syndrome (DES), conjunctivitis, eye irritation, glaucoma, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

“Remember that all particulate matter and other pollutants in indoor smoke can inflame the airways and lungs, impair the immune response and reduce the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. Cooking with solid fuels and kerosene can lead to a stroke, heart disease, eye problems, nasopharyngeal and laryngeal cancers, and cataracts,” said Dr Bipin Jibhkate, consultant critical care medicine, and ICU director at Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road.

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First published on: 01-07-2022 at 12:04:04 pm

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