“I paid Rs. 1800 for a ‘free’ gas cylinder!’
Says Reena, a resident of south-west Delhi’s Sitapuri, who works in the informal sector. And she is not alone, “Many of us have been fooled by this Ujjwala scheme – it is a sham,” she claims.
This is what a motley group under the political party CPI (M) (Communist Party of India Marxist) banner came to protest against, whose Delhi State Secretary, K. M. Tiwari stated that Aadhar identification number that is required for getting subsidized gas cylinders has become a burden on the common people.
Additionally, the cost of a subsidised LPG cylinder (14.2 kg) has risen by 21 per cent while that of the non-subsidised cylinder has zoomed up by nearly 80 percent in the past two and a half years, effectively destroying the tall claims of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), as well as family budgets of crores of people.
Once the subsidized first cylinder is over, the current cost of Rs. 507.42 refill per cylinder is too steep. Even poor people in Delhi are not able to buy subsidized cylinder, which is being used sparingly, with many falling back on traditional cooking fuels like cow-dung cakes, wood burning, etc.
Data and statistics need to be collected about the success of the much-touted Ujjwala scheme says CPI (M), especially on sustained usage. Some sections of media are have reported of “inactive” consumers (those who do not refill within three months), which may be as high as 15 percent of all consumers, or up to 3.8 crore families enrolling in the scheme.
Meanwhile, the situation of non-subsidised LPG consumers, which form the bulk of Indian consumers is even worse. LPG prices for them have increased dramatically from Rs. 527.50 in May 2016 to Rs. 942.50 in November 2018 per cylinder. That’s a jump of nearly 80 percent!
There is also a flourishing black market in LPG is in place now with cylinders selling for as much as Rs 1200. For a poor family, which is not BPL, it is impossible to bear this cost. Exacerbating the issue is that the present definition of BPL is an income of Rs.131 per day, which is ludicrously low.
“It is these issues of the common people that the government should be urgently addressing,” says Reena.