Ujjwala mission: A work in progress
out. That gives a figure of 38 million women having obtained LPG connections and we are also told the target has been increased from 50 million to 80 million. In addition, there is a performance dashboard at mygov.in and since it is real time, it is more current than the first document. The dashboard shows a figure of 41 million.
Is something like the PMUY a good idea? I haven’t met anyone who has said it is a bad idea. Is there any duplicity (perhaps I should have written multiplicity) and double counting in the numbers? Because of several diligence checks used, I haven’t met anyone who has claimed that. Hence, half-full versus halfempty. Those who want to fill the glass look upon it as half-full and those who want to empty the glass look upon it as half-empty. Perception is coloured by the lens one wears.
It is also a fact that improvements face the phenomenon of the bar being constantly raised. Therefore, there is a critique that argues the following. The PMUY is fine. However, having introduced the PMUY, you need to build on it. Despite getting a LPG connection, people don’t refill cylinders. Why don’t they? Bordering on the speculative, one can hypothesise.
Even when subsidised, LPG costs are high. Firewood is cheaper and negative externalities associated with firewood not appreciated enough.
The market wants smaller cylinders (5 kg), but distributors only supply larger ones (14.2 kg). Rs 1,600 still means losses for oil marketing companies and without refills, distributors suffer losses.
Despite such elements of a critique, it is not obvious what the policy deductions are. Is there an argument for increasing subsidy on subsidised LPG cylinder further? Is it an argument for increasing the fixed cost subsidy beyond Rs 1,600? Is there a case for tweaking EMI provisions? (I haven’t gone into these details.) Or is this simply a case of markets reacting with a time lag?
Oddly enough, not too many people in metro India seem to know that April 20 is celebrated as Ujjwala Diwas, a part of Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (GSA).
Indeed, many don’t seem to know about the GSA. Full for rural may mean empty for metro.
Bibek Debroy is chairman of Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister and a member of Niti Aayog The views expressed are personal
According to the 2011 Census, the use of cooking gas in rural households rose from 5.7% to 11.4% from 2001