Back to Chulhas from LPG stoves

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Surging prices of LPG are causing people in rural and urban India to look for substitutes.

Bengaluru: The increase in cooking gas prices is forcing people to use substitutes for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). The government has stopped subsidies for LPG.

Nikhil Mandal, a migrant from Kolkata who is working as a cleaner in Whitefield, said, “We do not get any subsidies from the government. We use firewood (chulha) for cooking.” Nikhil used to get a subsidy of Rs. 200 for cooking gas before the pandemic, when he was living in Kolkata.

Schemes like Pradhana Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) and subsidies related to such schemes were not mentioned in the Union Budget of 2022-23. The Union Budget for 2021-22 states, “provision for the release of an additional one crore LPG connections under the PMUY scheme has been made. In this phase, a special facility has been given to migrant families.”

However, Nikhil did not receive any LPG connection or subsidy. Migrants can transfer their LPG connections across the country.

PMUY was launched in 2016. Over 80 million households received LPG connections under this scheme. People received the subsidies till 2019. However, from 2020 people stopped receiving any subsidies.

According to the Union Budget 2022-23, “The government of India reduced the subsidy by 10.8 percent for LPG as  compared to the Union Budget 2021-22, which was Rs. 14,703 crore. For 2022-23, the subsidy is Rs. 5,813 crore.” This sum includes subsidy for auto gas.

Sujatha, a beautician in Hyderabad, said, “We would receive around Rs. 200 as a subsidy  at the beginning, which was 2018. Later, we did not receive any subsidies, not even at the time of the pandemic.” Sujatha now pays Rs. 1,130 for a single cylinder and does not receive a subsidy.

Sunanda, who works as a maid in Hyderabad, said that the current situation of increase in prices of all the commodities makes it difficult for her to take care of the household expenditure. “The gas price is Rs. 1,130 and we have to pay Rs. 30 for the gas cylinder delivery boy. Though we use a cylinder for three months, sometimes I have to borrow money due to my low income.”

Shivaraj, an employee of SNS Indane Gas Agency in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, said, “The central government had stopped providing subsidies since 2020.” 

Muralidar, manager at Rashmi Gas Agency, agreed with Shivaraj. However, both of them receive queries from people regarding subsidies. “We explain to them that we cannot provide subsidies and the government has to provide them,” said Muralidar.

The cost of cooking gas is Rs. 1,155. People below poverty line are now going back to chulhas and for a person with less than Rs.10,000 as income, is a task to coup-up with the surge in natural gas prices.

According to the records of Abhishek Gas Agency at Rajarajeshwari Nagar, customers received subsidies till April 2020. The agency’s records showed that one of the customers received a subsidy of Rs. 158.62, till April 22, 2022.

Ashwini, an employee at the same agency, said, “Customers would receive subsidies before the pandemic. There are people receiving subsidies under PMUY even now.” Shaheena, who is a beneficiary under PMUY, did not receive any subsidy under this scheme.

Dr. Bipin Sony, an economics professor at Dr. B.R Ambedkar University of Economics, said, “PMUY is a revolutionary scheme, and lakhs of people got the benefits of this scheme. However, it is very clear that the scheme did not progress much. The scheme was there till 2019. But, the scheme was not a part of the Union Budget 2021.This shows us that not all the people below poverty line received the connections and subsidies.”

According to the professor, schemes involving international commodities, like natural gas, cannot progress much. “It is an international relation and the government needs to change the prices according to the global natural gas market,” he said.


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