Vadodara: The Centre will provide 1.5 crore gas connections to women members of Below Poverty Line (BPL) families during the current fiscal, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has said.
"We will provide 1.5 crore gas connections to women members of BPL families in fiscal 2016-17 and our target is to provide gas connections to five crore women in the next three years," Pradhan told reporters in Vadodra on Wednesday night.
"It is a new initiative of our government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide cooking gas to omen members of BPL families with state support," he said.
"After Prime Minister requested people to give up gas subsidy, 96 lakh people have surrendered it and this amount is being used to give LPG connections to women in BPL families," he added.
"The government has set aside a sum of Rs 2,000 crore in Union Budget 2016 to meet the initial cost of providing these LPG connections," Pradhan said.
According to him, the scheme will free women in rural areas from the curse of smoke while cooking and will also reduce the time spent on it.
The scheme, christened 'Ujjwala', provides financial support of Rs 1,600 for each LPG connection to BPL households. The identification of eligible BPL families, as proposed in the Budget for 2016-17, will be made in consultation with the state.
Terming the Budget announcement as historic, Pradhan said the scheme will not only have immense health benefits for women and their children by providing a clean cooking fuel but will also provide significant ecological dividends.
Quoting World Heath Organisation estimates, Pradhan said, "About 5 lakh women die in the country due to unclean cooking fuels. Most of these premature deaths are due to non- communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer."
"While providing the new connections to BPL households, priorities would be given to the uncovered states and pockets, particularly in the eastern region of the country. This will benefit about 1.50 crore lakh households below the poverty line in 2016-17," Pradhan added.
The Minister also said that "as part of India's drive towards self-sufficiency, the Centre is considering to incentivise gas production from deep-water, ultra deep-water and high pressure-high temperature areas, which are presently not exploited on account of higher cost and higher risks."
"It is the desire of the PM to reduce import of crude oil by 10 percent by 2022 when country will be celebrating its 75th independence day on August 15 2022," he added.