DEHRADUN: Modi government's flagship scheme 'Ujjwala Yojana' to provide LPG cylinders to families below the poverty line, has failed in Uttarakhand as over 99 per cent of the connection holders are not able to refill their cylinders.
Out of a total of 3.72 lakh connections across 13 districts of the hill state, only over 3500 connection holders have been able to refill their cylinders.
Madan Kaushik, state cabinet minister and spokesperson for the government said, "The connections were distributed to the women to make their life easy and we are committed that the purpose is fulfilled."
Reasons behind such an abysmal rate of refills are cited as spiking rates of the LPG cylinders, non-availability of centers for the refill, lack of delivery persons to the houses of connection holders due to tough hilly terrain and others.
Biennial report of Forest Survey of India in December 2019 revealed that Uttarakhand has still uses 4,076 tonnes of firewood annually as fuel for various purposes including cooking.
Vandana Devi from Khedgaanv of Tehri district said, "The rates of the cylinder have been increasing constantly and now it costs around Rs 900. We are unable to refill it as we do not have money. The government should roll back the increment."
Deepa Devi from Mayali of Rudraprayag said, "Even after we get the cylinder, cost of transportation using a vehicle or a mule costs additional Rs 100-300 which is not affordable for us."
Last week, cooking gas LPG price was increased by Rs 144.5 per cylinder. However, to protect the consumers from the burn, the government almost doubled the subsidy per cylinder.
The government on LPG cylinders has been increased from Rs 153.86 per cylinder to Rs 291.48.
Maximum connection holders are in Haridwar with 1.09 lakh women followed by Udham Singh Nagar with 93,275 Ujjawala connections, Dehradun with 47,139, Tehri (21,668), Almora (20,000), Pithoragarh (14,117), Uttarkashi (13,000), Nainital (12,634), Bageshwar (11,119), Chamoli (9,563), Champawat (7741), Rudraprayag (6567) and Pauri (6200).
Out of this, only 3500 connections applied for a refill on a regular basis, said officials from Indian Oil Corporation, the agency responsible for the distribution of the LPG in Uttarakhand.
Prabhat Verma, deputy general manager, IOC said, "We get requests for over 3500 refill under Ujjawal scheme across Uttarakhand. The refilled cylinders are delivered to the agencies from where those are distributed to the connection holders."