In what clearly corroborates the success of PM Modi’s flagship Ujjwala scheme, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has reportedly praised the said scheme for providing free cooking gas to the poor. IEA has called it a “major achievement” in improving the environment as well as women’s health. Speaking at a conference, IEA Executive Director, Fatih Birol, said, “Providing access to LPG across India by 2020 is a major achievement. It is not an energy issue, it is an economic issue, it is a social issue.”
It is important to mention here that Ujjwala is one of the most important social schemes launched by the Modi government. It was launched on May 1, 2016, from Ballia, Uttar Pradesh. The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), as it is officially called, aims to improve the health of women and children by providing free LPG connections to poor families. Therefore, LPG has replaced traditional fuel like woods in a large way as far as cooking is concerned, ever since the Ujjwala scheme was launched. The use of traditional fuel was detrimental to both the environment as well as the health of the person using it.
The scheme has been largely successful. 7.4 crore LPG connections have already been distributed and the government aims to take this figure to 8 crore connections by 2020. Stressing upon the importance of this scheme, Birol said use of forest wood and agricultural waste as cooking gas is a major source of respiratory diseases, badly affecting the health of women and children. He added, “Ujjwala is not just an energy achievement but also social and economic achievement.”
The distribution of LPG connections has been revolutionised ever since the BJP came to power in the year 2014. Ever since the Modi government came at the helm of affairs, the number of LPG connections in the country has doubled to more than 26 crore. Today, India has managed to ensure that 90 per cent of the country’s population is covered by LPG connections thereby greatly reducing the need of using traditional fuel as cooking gas. The government also aims at ensuring that LPG connections are provided to all the households by the year 2020-21.
This is not the first time that the Ujjwala scheme has been praised by an international body. Last year, the World Health Organisation had also showered praise upon the scheme. The WHO report had said, “While the latest data show ambient air pollution levels are still dangerously high in most parts of the world, they also show some positive progress. Countries are taking measures to tackle and reduce air pollution from particulate matter. For example, in just two years, India’s Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana scheme has provided some 37 million women living below the poverty line with free LPG connections to support them to switch to clean household energy use.”
It is clear that while PM Modi’s opponents and critics in India are still clueless about how the prime minister’s initiatives are transforming the country, his efforts are now being recognised internationally on a regular basis.