Workshop on “PMUY Scheme in Assam: Effects, Expectations and Expansion”

On 3rd March, 2024, a dissemination workshop, as a part of the collaborative short term empirical research project under Special Call Division of ICSSR, was held at Madhavdev High School, Bhagabatipara under Rampur Block of Kamrup, Assam. The topic of the workshop was “PMUY Scheme in Assam: Effects, Expectations and Expansion”. It was organised by the Departments of History, Anthropology and Economics of Arya Vidyapeeth College (Autonomous), Guwahati, in collaboration with Cotton University and IIT Guwahati.

The workshop was attended by all the stakeholders of the PMUY scheme like the PMUY beneficiaries of greater Rampur Block, ASHA and Angawadi workers, Gaon Panchayat members, local school teachers, IOCL officers, gas agency workers and researchers and investigators of the study. In all, the workshop was attended by 108 participants.

In the day long workshop, the success and scope of the study which was conducted on the socio-economic and environmental outcomes of the PM Ujjwala Scheme and its impact analysis in Assam were discussed with the stakeholders. The economic and health benefits of using clean cooking fuel were highlighted and awareness was created about the positive impacts of the PMUY. Further, the workshop provided a platform for facilitating collaboration between the stakeholders for better reach and impact of the scheme. A lively discussion was held among the local women of the area, both PMUY beneficiaries and To gather feedback of the stakeholders to recommend necessary suggestions to the Government for further improvement in scheme.

The workshop was inaugurated by Shri Jon Das, President of the Dakshin Kamrup Gaon Panchayat Samabai Samiti Limited. The Guest of Honour was Shri B Goswami, President, of SDMC, Madhabdev High School who spoke the benefits of the scheme. Shri S Chakraborty, MGR, (LPG-S), Indane Division Office, IOCL, Guwahati and Shri Dilip Talukdar, Manager, LPG (Sales), LSA, IOCL, Guwahati also addressed the audience. Shri Chakraborty spoke on how PMUY connections are given and the criteria for selecting the beneficiaries. He spoke about the baseline socio-economic and caste census conducted in the year 2011 by the Government of India. He also highlighted that during the critical covid period, three free cylinders were provided to the PMUY beneficiaries. He stressed that LPG should be used in a correct and safe method and malpractices like reselling of cylinders should be stopped. Sri Talukdar elaborated on the success of the PMUY scheme. Till date, there are more than 10 crore PMUY connections in the entire country which benefits around 50 crore people. This has made a world record as the scheme with the highest beneficiaries and is also included in the the Guiness Book of World Record. Shri Talukdar also informed that Before PMUY, LPG penetration in India was around 35% and at present it is 97%. In Assam, except four or five districts, LPG penetration is almost 100%. However, although the number of connections is satisfactory, the average consumption is 3/4 cylinders only per year. Since a subsidy of Rs. 352/ is given for every cylinder, the cost of a cylinder is only Rs. 600/ for the PMUY beneficiaries which is much less than the cost of firewood. Shri Talukdar also informed that to address the afforability issue, the beneficiaries can also avail the 5kg cylinders, which costs only Rs. 200/ after subsidy.

Later, a demonstration was given on the method of safe use of LPG gas and how to check the expiry dates of cylinders and pipes. It was informed that of cotton clothes and preferably fireproof aprons should be worn during cooking.
In the first technical session, the Project Directors and field investigators shared their experiences and observations they gathered during the field survey. It was highlighted that the PMUY has been succesful in reducing indoor air pollution and in relieving the women of the drudgery of housework. Time saved by the use of LPG has been positively utilised by the women in taking care of their children and family, in leisure activities and also in getting engaged in income generating activities. This has a positive impact on the general standard of living of the women.

In the second technical session, a lively discussion was held among all the stakeholders and the women from the audience shared the challenges that they face regarding availing connection and refilling of cylinders. For booking of cylinders, mobile phones are necessary, which needs to be recharged. They have to make long ques to get cylinders and sometimes have to come back empty handed. This adds to the transportation cost as the agencies are not near their homes. The delivery boys and agency workers at times, do not recieve their phone calls. So they have buy the cylinders from black marketeers at higher rates. Another woman, shared her grievance of not getting PMUY connection even though she is below the poverty level. As her newly established family did not have a ration card they could not apply for PMUY. They had to take a loan for getting LPG connection immediately. And now, she is not eligible for becoming a PMUY beneficiary. Some women stated their inability to collect the full amount of Rs.952/ to refill their cylinder immediately after one cylinder gets exhausted. The resource persons emphasised that agents, middlemen and brokers should not be engaged in availing connections and refilling cylinders. Some beneficiaires sell their cylinders due to financial crunch and later they are unable to get PMUY connections again. So this practice also need to be stopped. Discussion was also held on the necessity of rectification of the 14 point criteria of identifying poor households so that the truly needy are not deprived of the benefits of the government schemes like the PMUY.

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