The Department of Food and Civil Supplies is going ahead with its initiative to provide clean and safe cooking fuel to the poor. All districts have been told to push for providing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connection to below the poverty line (BPL) ration card holders for free.
Department Commissioner Harsh Gupta told The Hindu that field-level reports had shown that there was preference for LPG connection. But it was difficult for the poor to get the connection as a lot of documents were being sought. Moreover, the poor also find it difficult to pay the deposit amount (Rs. 2,400 for a single cylinder and about Rs. 3,900 for double cylinders). Also, there was apprehension among about the safety of gas cylinders, he said. Mr. Gupta said kerosene issued to BPL card holder without LPG connection (up to 5 litres a month) was not enough. Also, use of kerosene causes pollution. There were around 80 lakh BPL card holders who are getting kerosene.
He said all deputy commissioners had been instructed to push for providing LPG connections for free to BPL families. Municipal bodies and panchayat institutions had been asked to make use of the funds available under the 22.75 per cent sub-plan scheme meant for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to pay the deposit. They had been also asked to make use of funds available under the 7.25 per cent scheme for the welfare of economically poor and the 3 per cent scheme for the welfare of persons with disabilities.
“Some DCs have announced making their districts ‘kerosene-free’ while others are silently working towards objective. There has been a good progress,” he said.
Mr. Gupta said for the past one month, the department had been involved in a pilot project in Bangalore with oil marketing companies. The department had given the details of BPL card holders to the companies. Gas distributors were going to the doorstep of such cardholders and taking copies of their cards. After verification, the companies were issuing sanction orders to the cardholders, who would get 90 days to pay the deposit to get the LPG connection.
“Each company has been given a target,” Mr. Gupta said. The oil companies were doing awareness campaigns about standard safety features, he added.