More than 64 lakh women have got free LPG connections within five months of the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala scheme aimed at providing smoke-free kitchens in the country. The scheme, under the aegis of the Ministry of Natural Gas and Petroleum headed by Dharmendra Pradhan, was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 1 May this year and in less than five months, 64 lakh-plus LPG cylinders have been provided to the poor until this week, said a senior official of the ministry.

He said Uttar Pradesh tops the list of states with 24.7 lakh beneficiaries, followed by Rajasthan with 10.5 lakh, Madhya Pradesh 7.3 lakh and Bihar 6.5 lakh.

Under the scheme, the government provides LPG connections to 5 crore poor women with government assistance over a period of three years, for which the eligible families are identified through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data. 

Other states that are doing fairly well include Gujarat, West Bengal, Orissa, Haryana and Chhattisgarh. However, the scheme has failed to gain momentum in states such as Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Punjab and Tamil Nadu.

Although no major complaint has been reported in the course of the implementation of the scheme, the source said that a few cases of discrepancies have been reported in the SECC list, for which the matter is being taken up with the Ministry of Rural Development. 

The government has earmarked a budget of Rs 8,000 crore for the scheme, under which a financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per LPG connection is given to poor women. The beneficiary also gets EMI facility for meeting the cost of stove and refill.

Following Prime Minister Modi’s call for “Give It Up”, as many as 1.04 crore people have given up their subsidy on LPG connection. As a result of this, the government is saving Rs 1,800 crore. 

India has a total of 17.5 crore LPG connections as of now, which the government aims at increasing to 25 crore by 2019. In May 2014, this number was 13 crore.

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