With the aim to replace firewood with LPG for cooking, Petroleum and Natural Gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to give free LPG connections to 50 lakh Below Poverty Line families of Bihar in three years.
“Bihar would be the biggest beneficiary of the scheme. Out of 5 crore of LPG connections that would be given in the country in next three years, Bihar would get 50 lakh of LPG connections for BPL families besides 10 lakh of connections for APL families,” Pradhan said while launching the scheme.
Pradhan, accompanied by seven other union ministers hailing from Bihar on the occasion, said the scheme will empower women belonging to poor households.
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In India smoke from fire wood, coal, dung cakes etc affect the health of women, he said referring to a World Health Organisation report which stated that smoke inhaled by women is equivalent to 400 cigarettes per hour.
Talking about the poor LPG coverage in the state, Pradhan said when NDA came to power at the Centre, there were 48 lakh LPG connections in the state but in only two years, the government added 20 lakh connections taking the total number of LPG consumers to 68 lakh.
“Our target is to take the number of LPG connections to 1.30 crore in 2019,” he said.
The condition of LPG connections in districts of Kosi, Seemanchal is very poor, where it hovers between 12 to 19 connections per 100 families, he said.
The ministry will appoint 100 new distributors in two months to implement the scheme properly, the minister said, adding 2,000 more distributors will be appointed in future.
“If any distributor forces one to buy LPG stove for getting connection, the officials have been asked to take stern action against the distributor,” he added.
The Centre is laying Jagdishpur-Haldia pipeline which would benefit Bihar, Pradhan said adding a plan is on to set up new bottling plants and pipeline in Bihar for which land is required.
On the occasion, altogether 100 Below Poverty Line (BPL) families were provided with LPG connections by the union ministers who alleged that the Nitish Kumar government was not cooperating with the Centre for availing benefits of schemes and projects launched for Bihar.