A daily wager and an inhabitant of Maharashtra, Ayesha Shaikh is getting the new gas connection. She is a mother of five, who used to fetch dry woods from nearby areas for cooking on a humble “chulha”. Ayesha and Rafiq Shaikh, who belongs to Aurangabad, have come a beneficiary number eight crore of the ambitious Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) which provides LPG connections to women from Below Poverty Line (BPL) households.

At a function, held in Aurangabad, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday handed the Ujjwala scheme certificates of the Shaikh couple. After the event, while interaction with the media persons, she said that  “First thing I will be doing is cooking ”biryani” once I get the cylinder and stove. I am happy as the new connection will save my labor.”

Ms. Ayesha also said that she had been dependent on wooden cooking which was a difficult daily routine that occupied a significant amount of her life. “I had to fetch dry wood from nearby areas, which was a laborious task. Now, I will have some relief as I can cook in less time,” an elated Ms. Ayesha said.

The new scheme aims to provide clean cooking fuel to poor households, replacing unhealthy conventional fuels such as firewood, cow dung, etc. The government has achieved the target of providing eight crores free cooking gas (LPG) connections to the poor nearly seven months ahead of schedule. 

The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) was introduced on May 1, 2016, targeting to provide five crore connection to women members of poor households by March 2019. Later, the target was raised to eight crore connections by March 2020.

Ms. Shaikh said that she applied with a local gas agency in Ajanta village for a free connection around a month ago. “I received a call from the agency a couple of days before the Saturday function of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Aurangabad. Till then I did not know that I was the eight croreth beneficiary,” she said.

The government under PMUY offers a subsidy of Rs. 1,600 to state-owned fuel retailers for every free LPG gas connection that they give to poor households and the subsidy aims to cover the security fee for the cylinder and the fitting charges. However, the cooking stove has to be purchased by themselves. According to the official data, the scheme has helped raise the LPG coverage to about 95 percent of the population from 55 percent in May 2014. 

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