A survey from West Bengal has challenged the BJP claims that Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana has transformed lives of women in rural India.
In a report published by The Telegraph ,around 42 per cent people from about 100 remote villages in Jhargram and West Midnapore gave up using LPG cylinders during the pandemic because of the rise in their prices according to the survey.
Dr. Pravat Kumar, assistant professor of geography at Raja N.L. Khan Women’s College in Midnapore, and Debashish Sengupta, professor of geology and geophysics at IIT Kharagpur, has brought into focus the affordability of LPG cylinders among the rural poor.
The survey covered 560 household from 100 villages in 13 blocks in Jhargram and West Midnapore. The survey concluded that around 42 per cent of the surveyed people abandoned their gas cylinders and went back to firewood as they could not afford LPG cylinders during the pandemic.
According to the survey has highlighted three main reasons for the reduced use of LPG namely-
- gas price hike
- gas availability problem during the lockdown
- decrease of household income
From Rs 620.50 in September 2020, the price of a domestic LPG cylinder had risen to Rs 926 by November 5, 2021. On Nov 5, the price of Liquified Petroleum Gas cylinders was hiked by Rs 266. There have been price hike in the price of petrol, diesel and LPG despite the crude oil being at its lowest in the international oil market. The hikes on petrol and diesel is leading to an overall price rise in transport and cost of essential commodities. But the continuous steep rise in LPG is pushing many people to revert to the use of chulhas and firewood.
The survey tells that as people are unable to afford LPG, they are forced to go towards forest to meet their demand. Many have kept their gas cylinders in storage rooms.
The Yojana launched in 2016 to boost the use of clean cooking fuel and reduce diseases, is believed to have helped the BJP in key elections. At poll campaigns across the country, BJP leaders including the Prime Minister have boasted about the scheme covering almost 98 per cent of the country.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also slammed the Centre for a rise in the price of LPG and said lakhs of families have been forced to use ‘chulhas’ due to the spiraling prices.
In a tweet, Rahul said, “Miles away from the rhetoric of development, lakhs of families are forced to use chulhas. Modi ji’s vehicle of development is running in reverse gear and its brakes have failed too.”
विकास के जुमलों से कोसों दूर,
लाखों परिवार चूल्हा फूंकने पर मजबूर।
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) November 6, 2021
Shit said the survey was an offshoot of “our main survey on ‘geospatial assessment of biomass and carbon stocks of a tropical forest in Jhargram district’, under a project of the state government’s science, technology and biotechnology department”.
“During the field visits, we found people had been abandoning their LPG cylinders and ovens. Many had banished them to storerooms more than a year earlier as the price of LPG cylinders increased.”
Shit said the field study was conducted between November last year and September this year.