Minister Smriti Irani Claims Success On Cooking Gas Provision In Jharkhand, But State Has 3rd Lowest Coverage & Refill Consumption


Mumbai: “More than 32 lakh mothers in Jharkhand alone have received a gas cylinder free of cost under the Ujjwala Yojana. All their families too benefited from having smoke-free kitchens in their midst,” Smriti Irani, Union Minister for Minister of Women and Child Development, said at an election rally in Kanke on December 8, 2019. She was campaigning for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Samri Lal for the Kanke assembly constituency.

Irani’s claim is presents only half the picture, but as of April 1, 2019, Jharkhand had the third lowest coverage of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) after Meghalaya and Nagaland under the Ujjwala Scheme, and as of December 31, 2018, it had the third lowest annual refill consumption, according to a report published on December 11, 2019 by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, the government’s auditor.

In May 2016, the Centre launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) to provide LPG connections to 50 million women below poverty line, especially in rural areas, in the next three years.

As of September 7, 2019, 80.3 million LPG connections were released under PMUY, according to data available on the scheme dashboard. Of these, Jharkhand accounts for 3.29 million.

Jharkhand has, as we said, the third lowest LPG coverage nationwide. The CAG defines LPG coverage as the ratio of active domestic consumers to total households (estimated based on the population growth rate between 2001 and 2011 as per Census 2011 data). As of April 1, 2019, Jharkhand had 70.8% LPG coverage--with 5.17 million active domestic connections compared with an estimated 7.3 million households in the state.

Nationwide, LPG coverage rose from 55.9% in April 2014 to 61.9% in May 2016, and further to 94.3% in April 2019, the report said. Fourteen states have achieved between 100.1% and 140% coverage, the report noted.

Eastern India, comprising 12 states and one union territory, had an average coverage of 80.4%--9.6 percentage points more than Jharkhand’s 70.8%.

Source: Comptroller and Auditor General Report on Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, 2019

As of December 2018, Jharkhand also had the third lowest average refill consumption per annum. Nationwide, LPG consumers used, on average, 3.21 refills each year. Chhattisgarh had the lowest consumption (1.61), followed by Madhya Pradesh (2.38) and Jharkhand (2.57).

Considering the low coverage and low refill consumption under the scheme, one of the nodal officials of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas who is in-charge of the implementation of PMUY in the state clarified requesting anonymity that the major reason behind the current scenario is the late implementation of the scheme in the state.

“Though, the scheme began in May 2016 across India, it started here [in Jharkhand] on October 28, 2016,” a district nodal officer of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas told FactChecker.in. The officer requested anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media. Even as the target was achieved nationwide, about 1 million people were left out in Jharkhand, he added.

Though many people were eligible to benefit, they cannot be provided connections as the scheme ended, he said.

Affordability is a major problem in Jharkhand, Taramani Sahu, a social activist and state co-convener of NREGA WATCH, Jharkhand told FactChecker.in. “A majority of them earn only a few thousand in a month, and they find it difficult to spend on refilling.”

Another challenge is the poor transportation system of the state, where people have to travel around 25 km to get the cylinders refilled, Sahu said. There is no proper connectivity, so they prefer to use wood and other materials for cooking. “For old women who receive a pension of Rs 1,000 per month, how can they spend on refilling? They are rather spending on food and medicine,” she added.

The government forced people to take LPG cylinders, threatening to invalidate their ration cards if they do not take connections under the scheme, Manki Tubid, social activist and a member of the West Singhbhum-based Tribal Research and Training Center, alleged.

Nobody has ever been forced to take LPGs under PMUY scheme,” Sanjay Kumar, director of Food and Civil supplies department, Jharkhand who was in charge of the scheme in the state, told FactChecker.in. “People actually came up to us to get their connections faster after the submission of request.”

Tubid attributed the low refill rate in the state to poverty and easy accessibility to wood. The district nodal officer quoted above concurred, adding that some tribals have a misconception that the cylinder may blast.

“Low LPG coverage is also due to the lack of identification proof,” Tubid added. “A lot of people don’t have an Aadhaar card and without identity proof, they can’t access the benefits of the scheme.”

(Pushpita Dey, a graduate student of journalism at Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, is an intern at IndiaSpend and FactChecker.in.)

We welcome feedback. Please write to respond@indiaspend.org. We reserve the right to edit responses for language and grammar.

Mumbai: “More than 32 lakh mothers in Jharkhand alone have received a gas cylinder free of cost under the Ujjwala Yojana. All their families too benefited from having smoke-free kitchens in their midst,” Smriti Irani, Union Minister for Minister of Women and Child Development, said at an election rally in Kanke on December 8, 2019. She was campaigning for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Samri Lal for the Kanke assembly constituency.

Irani’s claim is presents only half the picture, but as of April 1, 2019, Jharkhand had the third lowest coverage of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) after Meghalaya and Nagaland under the Ujjwala Scheme, and as of December 31, 2018, it had the third lowest annual refill consumption, according to a report published on December 11, 2019 by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, the government’s auditor.

In May 2016, the Centre launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) to provide LPG connections to 50 million women below poverty line, especially in rural areas, in the next three years.

As of September 7, 2019, 80.3 million LPG connections were released under PMUY, according to data available on the scheme dashboard. Of these, Jharkhand accounts for 3.29 million.

Jharkhand has, as we said, the third lowest LPG coverage nationwide. The CAG defines LPG coverage as the ratio of active domestic consumers to total households (estimated based on the population growth rate between 2001 and 2011 as per Census 2011 data). As of April 1, 2019, Jharkhand had 70.8% LPG coverage--with 5.17 million active domestic connections compared with an estimated 7.3 million households in the state.

Nationwide, LPG coverage rose from 55.9% in April 2014 to 61.9% in May 2016, and further to 94.3% in April 2019, the report said. Fourteen states have achieved between 100.1% and 140% coverage, the report noted.

Eastern India, comprising 12 states and one union territory, had an average coverage of 80.4%--9.6 percentage points more than Jharkhand’s 70.8%.

Source: Comptroller and Auditor General Report on Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, 2019

As of December 2018, Jharkhand also had the third lowest average refill consumption per annum. Nationwide, LPG consumers used, on average, 3.21 refills each year. Chhattisgarh had the lowest consumption (1.61), followed by Madhya Pradesh (2.38) and Jharkhand (2.57).

Considering the low coverage and low refill consumption under the scheme, one of the nodal officials of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas who is in-charge of the implementation of PMUY in the state clarified requesting anonymity that the major reason behind the current scenario is the late implementation of the scheme in the state.

“Though, the scheme began in May 2016 across India, it started here [in Jharkhand] on October 28, 2016,” a district nodal officer of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas told FactChecker.in. The officer requested anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media. Even as the target was achieved nationwide, about 1 million people were left out in Jharkhand, he added.

Though many people were eligible to benefit, they cannot be provided connections as the scheme ended, he said.

Affordability is a major problem in Jharkhand, Taramani Sahu, a social activist and state co-convener of NREGA WATCH, Jharkhand told FactChecker.in. “A majority of them earn only a few thousand in a month, and they find it difficult to spend on refilling.”

Another challenge is the poor transportation system of the state, where people have to travel around 25 km to get the cylinders refilled, Sahu said. There is no proper connectivity, so they prefer to use wood and other materials for cooking. “For old women who receive a pension of Rs 1,000 per month, how can they spend on refilling? They are rather spending on food and medicine,” she added.

The government forced people to take LPG cylinders, threatening to invalidate their ration cards if they do not take connections under the scheme, Manki Tubid, social activist and a member of the West Singhbhum-based Tribal Research and Training Center, alleged.

Nobody has ever been forced to take LPGs under PMUY scheme,” Sanjay Kumar, director of Food and Civil supplies department, Jharkhand who was in charge of the scheme in the state, told FactChecker.in. “People actually came up to us to get their connections faster after the submission of request.”

Tubid attributed the low refill rate in the state to poverty and easy accessibility to wood. The district nodal officer quoted above concurred, adding that some tribals have a misconception that the cylinder may blast.

“Low LPG coverage is also due to the lack of identification proof,” Tubid added. “A lot of people don’t have an Aadhaar card and without identity proof, they can’t access the benefits of the scheme.”

(Pushpita Dey, a graduate student of journalism at Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, is an intern at IndiaSpend and FactChecker.in.)

We welcome feedback. Please write to respond@indiaspend.org. We reserve the right to edit responses for language and grammar.

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1 Response

  1. Ashok says:

    Why is Gujarat in second place?

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