Monday, July 22, 2024

Make LPG affordable to poor households: Citizen group tells FM Nirmala ahead of Budget

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Warrior Moms, a national citizen action group, has written to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday demanding provisions in the Union Budget 2023-24 to make cooking gas affordable to poor households across India.

The group has claimed that the letter has been endorsed by more than 20 noted personalities, including Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, TMC MP Saugata Roy, DMK MP D Ravikumar, National Conference MP Farooq Abdulla, NCP MP Vandana Chavan and Justice (retired) Anjana Prakash.

“The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna (PMUY) introduced in 2016 has given over 8 crore households access to subsidised LPG connections. However, the insufficiency of the subsidy combined with the difficulty of getting a timely refill hinders millions of households from switching to LPG,” the letter read.

The group further mentioned in the letter that underprivileged households continue to depend on unclean fuels such as firewood and dung cakes, resulting in serious health implications.

“Unable to afford cylinders now priced at over Rs 1,000 on an average, underprivileged households continue to depend on unclean fuels like firewood and dung cakes, resulting in serious health implications such as still-births, asthma, bronchitis, growth stagnation, decrease in life expectancy and high infant mortality rates. It is imperative to provide all our underprivileged constituents with heavily subsidised cooking cylinders and refills,” the letter stated.

The group has urged the Centre to raise the subsidy amount beyond the current extension of Rs 200, along with making the distribution of LPG smoother across the country.

“It is disturbing to see the obstacles that women in urban-poor and rural households face due to the exorbitantly priced LPG refills across India. Continued usage of such fuels also has disastrous consequences on their health and well-being. We urge the Government of India to take this into account and raise the subsidy amount well beyond the current extension of Rs 200, along with making the distribution of LPG smoother across the country,” said Warrior Moms in a statement.

The Warrior Moms network said that they have submitted around 5,000 postcards to Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Puri, urging the government to address the issue of household air pollution by ensuring access to and affordability of LPG for all poor households.

Household air pollution contributes to 30 to 50 per cent of the ambient air quality in India, they said.

The Union Budget for 2023-24 will be presented in Parliament by the finance minister on February 1.

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