India”s Ujjwala scheme provided LPG access, but failed to promote its use: Study

Although India”s Ujjwala programme encouraged the adoption of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for cooking among the poor, households availing the scheme have not shifted away from using highly polluting fuels like firewood, a study reveals.

The researchers, including those from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada, found that additional incentives to encourage regular use of cooking gas are necessary for a complete transition to clean cooking fuel among poor rural households.

They noted that about 2.9 billion people across Asia, Africa, and Latin America burn solid fuels like firewood to meet their cooking energy needs. This has significant negative implications for public health, the environment, and societal development, according to the researchers.

Through the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), India has provided capital cost subsidies to poor women to adopt a clean-burning cooking fuel or LPG. The researchers explained that within the first 40 months of the scheme, more than 80 million households obtained LPG stoves.

However, the full benefits of LPG adoption depend on near complete replacement of polluting fuels with LPG, according to a research-based policy brief published in the journal Nature Energy. The scientists said this cannot be assumed solely on the basis of LPG presence in the household.

“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, told PTI.

The study analysed LPG sales data for over 25,000 consumers, including PMUY beneficiaries, as well as general rural LPG consumers in Koppal district of Karnataka.

The scientists employed data covering all LPG purchases of PMUY beneficiaries through their first year in the programme.

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