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Ujjwala made LPG accessible, it did not promote its use: Study

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New Delhi: The BJP government’s flagship LPG scheme Ujjwala may have encouraged the adoption of LPG for cooking among the poor, but has failed at promoting its use, a study published in the journal Nature Energy has said. It has noted that even though Ujjwala has made LPG accessible to the poor, households availing the scheme have not shifted away from using highly polluting fuels like firewood.

The researchers, some of whom were from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada, said that additional incentives to encourage regular use of cooking gas are necessary to facilitate a complete transition to the clean cooking fuel among poor, rural households. The study added that about 2.9 billion people across Asia, Africa, and Latin America burn solid fuels like firewood to meet their cooking energy needs, which negatively impacts public health, the environment, and societal development.

Full benefit of Ujjwala depends on complete replacement of solid fuels

The study noted that the full benefits of Ujjwala scheme can only be reaped if the polluting fuels are completely replaced with LPG. The researchers explained that within the first 40 months of the scheme, more than 80 million households obtained LPG stoves.

“Our research shows that Ujjwala was able to attract new consumers rapidly, but those consumers did not start using LPG on a regular basis,” Abhishek Kar, a postdoc at Columbia University in the US, said.

The study analysed data from 25,000 consumers

The study analysed LPG sales data for over 25,000 consumers, including Ujjwala beneficiaries, as well as general rural LPG consumers in Koppal district of Karnataka. The researchers employed data covering all LPG purchases of PMUY beneficiaries through their first year in the programme.

They also assessed the general rural population’s purchases during their first five years as consumers to assess the effect of experience on use. The study found that an average rural family needs to purchase five 14.2 kilogramme-cylinders annually to meet half of their cooking needs.

However, it added that just seven percent of Ujjwala beneficiaries in Koppal purchased five or more cylinders annually, suggesting that the beneficiaries seldom use LPG.
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