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Clean fuel? Modi's Ujjwala fails: Poor households 2.5 times "less likely" to use LPG

By Rajiv Shah
The Government of India's (GoI) Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, launched in 2016 in order to promote the use of clean cooking fuel to villagers by subsidizing liquid petroleum gas (LPG) connections, and thus reduce exposure to "harmful" indoor air pollution, has mainly helped the rural elite, a recent study, titled "Persistence of solid fuel use despite increases in LPG ownership: New survey evidence from rural north India", has said.
If GoI has contended that that by December 2018, six crore households received access to LPG through the Ujjwala Yojana, and that 90% of all Indian households owned an LPG cylinder and stove, the study, published by the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics (RICE), says, "The richest households are about 2.5 times more likely to exclusively use LPG than the poorest households."
According to the study, the poorest households "are less likely to have LPG than rich households, and "poor households are more likely to have received LPG through Ujjwala", but the latter may be "less likely to get a refill immediately after a cylinder becomes empty" because "refilling a cylinder costs almost half the average monthly per-capita expenditure."
Comparing the data of its 2018 survey on fuel use by revisiting households originally visited in 2014 in rural Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, taken as “sample states",because they collectively represent over two-fifths of India’s rural population, the study admits that "three-quarters of households reported owning LPG at the time of the survey, up from about one-third in 2014."
Considering this "an important improvement", the study, however, says, "We also find that many LPG owners, and particularly those that received cylinders through Ujjwala, still use solid fuels to cook. Most LPG owners also own a stove that uses solid fuel, and among households owning both, about three-quarters of households used solid fuels."
Decile 1 represents poorest, decile 10 richest households
The survey, which covers 11 districts in rural north India, three districts in each of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh, and two districts in Rajasthan, finds that "37% used both LPG and solid fuels, and 36% cooked everything using solid fuels", adding, "98% of households with LPG also had chulha, already indicating continued solid fuel use among LPG owners."
The study, authored by a group of scholars, Aashish Gupta, Sangita Vyas, Payal Hathi, Nazar Khalid, Nikhil Srivastav, Dean Spears, and Diane Coffey, further says, "Only 27% of households reported exclusively using LPG to cook all the items of these six that they made the day before the survey. 37% reported making some items on LPG and some on chulha, and 36% made everything on chulha."
According to the study, "Majority of households owning LPG either mix fuels or still exclusively use chulha, and this is particularly true for households that received LPG through Ujjwala. The fact that many rural households mix fuel sources helps make sense of slow improvements in the fraction of households mainly using clean fuels for cooking." Even among the rich households, which are "less likely to exclusively use chulha, and more likely to exclusively use LPG, than poor households", less than 37% exclusively use LPG.
It notes, "Interestingly, rich households are actually more likely to mix fuel sources than poor households. About 47% of the richest LPG-owning households mixed fuel sources", adding,"Among households that have LPG, richer households are more likely to use it compared to poorer household, but most of these rich households still use chulha on a daily basis."
Noting that the use of solid fuel remains a much cheaper source for cooking for the poorer households, the study says, "Among households that have chulha, which is almost all households, 68% report exclusively making or collecting solid fuels on their own, and 24% report making or collecting some solid fuels on their own, and buying some."
It adds, "Because so many households do not buy solid fuels for regular use, the median cost per month for dung or wood among all households that have chulha is Rs 0, and the mean is Rs. 214. Among households that buy solid fuels for regular use, the mean cost per month is Rs. 737."
"In comparison", the study says, "Among households reporting they had refilled their cylinder at least once, the mean reported cost of a cylinder refill is Rs 876." No doubt, it says, "Some households receive the LPG subsidy in their bank accounts, making the net cost of a cylinder cheaper than Rs. 876", but among households that have an LPG cylinder, only 51% reported receiving the subsidy.
It states, "Not all respondents knew the last subsidy amount, but those that did reported receiving almost Rs 300, on average. Therefore, for these households, the average net cost of one LPG refill was around Rs 600." Further, "35% of all LPG-owning households, and 60% of households that received LPG through Ujjwala, report not receiving the subsidy at all."
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Click HERE for the study

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
It is the same story--roads, electricity, internet - nothing seems to be what the government tells us.

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