Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri Dharmendra Pradhan in presence of Chief Minister Shri Virbhadra Singh, Union Health Minister Shri J.P. Nadda and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister, Col. (Dr.) Dhani Ram Shandil, today launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), a flagship scheme of the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, for the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families of the State. The scheme was launched from Solan, the district headquarters of Solan district.
Shri Virbhadra Singh while addressing on the occasion said that it was an ambitious scheme to benefit the BPL families who would be distributed Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) connections free of cost there by reducing the serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuel, reducing the number of deaths due to unclean cooking fuel and preventing young children from significant number of acute respiratory illnesses caused due to indoor air pollution by burning the fossil fuel, particularly in rural areas of the State.
He said that there were around 2,82,370 BPL families in the state and the LPG connection would certainly help them to get rid of burning fossil fuels which would also reduce extra pressure on flora and fauna. It would also help to recoil from unclean cooking fuels mostly used in the rural India with the clean and more efficient LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas).
He said that Mata Shabri Mahila Shastikaran Yojna was being successfully implemented in the State under which 50 percent subsidy was being given to the women of Schedule caste category of BPL families on LPG connections. The Ujjawala Yojna was an expansion of the existing scheme, he said. The Chief Minister said that empowering women means empowering the Nation as a whole.
He said that few people under the garb of collecting fuel wood went on rampage axing trees. The practise continued for long time and even the apple cartons were made of wood. It was after a long drawn political battle that the wooden boxes for packaging of apples were replaced by corrugated boxes amongst opposition from many, but it was necessary for preservation of environment, he said.
Under the first phase in Solan district, around 200 families were distributed LPG and so far 1450 BPL families have been registered.
The social welfare scheme was launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 1st May 2016 from Balia in Uttar Pradesh.
Union Minister Shri Dharmendra Pradhan said that under the scheme, the government aims to provide LPG connections to BPL households in the country. The scheme was aimed at providing five crore LPG connections in the name of women in BPL households across the country. The government has set a target of five crore LPG connections to be distributed to the BPL households across the country under the scheme. The eligible women candidates from BPL families can apply for the scheme. He said that as of date, 2.25 crore new beneficiaries had been added to the scheme in the first year of its commissioning in the country.
He said that in Himachal Pradesh, out of 16 lakh houses, 14 lakh houses had LPG connectivity that amounts to 80 to 90 percent connectivity, unlike in states like Bihar, Odissa,
Uttar Pradesh where it was less than 60 percent. The motive was to bring it closer to the National average, he said.
Today the total number of active LPG consumer has crossed 20 Crore. This has been a quantum jump from 14 crore in the year 2014, he said. He said that provision of Rs. 8000 crore had been made by the government for implementation of this scheme over three years. This would help women folk to overcome the problems of health hazard and other difficulties they face for collecting wooden. He said that in next one or two years every household in Himachal would have LPG connections.
The Union Minister said that there were 172 Distribution Centre for LPG in Himachal Pradesh and announced to open 50 more distribution centres in next few months, which would also provide employment opportunities to the youth of the state. Besides, apart from existing two bottling plants for LPG refill, two more bottling plants would be opened in the State.
He said that in coming times, entire Himachal Pradesh would be free of fossil fuel and carbon emissions and the union government take responsibility to make Himachal smoke-free.
He said that the connections under the scheme would be given in the name of women head of the households.
Union Minister of Health Shri J.P.Nadda said that the Union government was dedicated to the poorest of the poor and several schemes had been launched for welfare of the poor and the needy. It was the vision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to empower women folk in rural India, he said. In coming times no one in Himachal will be without gas connections, a step for transforming the lives of the rural poor.
Shri Nadda said that he was grateful to Union MoS Shri Dharmendra Pradhan for announcing to open 50 distribution centres in Himachal Pradesh.
Earlier, Shri Sanjiv Singh, Chairman Indian Oil Corporation welcomed and honoured the Chief Minister and other dignitaries present on the occasion.
Members of Parliament, MLAs were also present on the occasion amongst others.