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Current Affairs – 25 August 2021

Ujjwala 2.0

The Hindu

GS 2:

Context:

  • Many LPG connection holders were found to still be using other fuels like firewood and dung cakes. This is because men, who usually make the decision of buying the refill, often do not agree to a refill which is expensive for the poor.

Background:

  • In 2016, the Government launched the LPG scheme as the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMYU). NITI Aayog laid out a road map for universal access to LPG by 2025. 
  • The subsidy for LPG increased from ₹12,000 crore in 2016-17 to ₹21,000 crore in 2017-18 (Petroleum Analysis and Planning Cell, 2018), and 94% of all households had an LPG connection as of September 2019, an increase from 56% in 2014-15.
  • In India, many women in poor households who use firewood or dung cakes for cooking spend long hours collecting firewood and making dung cakes. It affects their health and puts the safety of women and girls in jeopardy.
  • Using firewood and dung cakes also leads to indoor pollution, as chulhas (firewood-based stoves) using these sources of energy release carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Initiatives by Government:

  • National Programme on Improved Chulha was launched in 1984 backed by training programs. But these programs failed when the subsidies were withdrawn.
  • PAHAL scheme was launched in 2013 providing LPG subsidy directly to the beneficiary’s account.
  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMYU) was launched in 2016 to avail LPG to rural and deprived households.
  • The Prime Minister recently introduced Ujjwala 2.0 under which one crore additional PMUY connections aim to provide deposit-free LPG connections to those low-income families who could not be covered under the earlier phase of PMUY.

Features of PMUY:

  • Introduced in 2016 by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MOPNG).
  • Objective – To create a smoke free rural India by providing concessional LPG connections to entire nation.
  • It aims provide 8 crore LPG connections to BPL families, with deposit free LPG connection amounting to financial assistance of Rs 1,600
  • The beneficiaries also have an option of zero-interest loan from the public sector OMCs for the stove and the first refill.
  • Connections will be issued on the name of women beneficiaries.

Ujjwala 1.0  Ujjwala 2.0
Implemented by Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. In the Union budget for FY 21-22, provision for an additional one crore LPG connection under the PMUY scheme was announced.
Launched in 2016, during which a target was set to provide deposit-free LPG connections to 5 crore women members of BPL households. This one crore additional PMUY connections (under Ujjwala 2.0) aim to provide deposit-free LPG connections to those low-income families who could not be covered under the earlier phase of PMUY.
Expanded in April 2018 to include women beneficiaries from seven more categories (SC/ST, PMAY, AAY, most backward classes, tea garden, forest dwellers etc). Along with a deposit free LPG connection, Ujjwala 2.0 will provide first refill and hotplate (stove) free of cost to the beneficiaries.
EMI facilities will be given for stove and refill cost (Interest-free loan). Also, the enrollment procedure will require minimum paperwork.
complementary to the Prime Minister’s ‘Give It Up Campaign’ through which a huge number of middle-class families have voluntarily surrendered their cooking gas subsidy Migrants will not be required to submit ration cards or address proof.
target was revised to 8 Crore LPG connections and this target was achieved in August 2019, seven months ahead of the target date A self-declaration for both ‘family declaration’ and as a ‘proof of address’ will suffice. Ujjwala 2.0 will help achieve the Prime Minister’s vision of universal access to LPG

 Achievements of PMUY:

  1. The initial target of 5 crore connections was achieved well before the target i.e., 31st March, 2019. According to the official PMUY website, by January 2019, 64 million LPG connections have been provided under the Ujjwala scheme, resulting in it being considered one of the most successful and effective social sector programmes in India.
  2. Under the PMUY, the average per capita consumption is 3.28 cylinders. This should be seen as a positive change in the lives of these households which were long dependent on the traditional cooking fuels and methods.
  3. LPG Panchayats are being observed to promote learning through peer group interaction – Kuch Seekhein, Kuch Sikhayein, where apart from experience sharing, it also aims at safe and sustained usage of LPG. Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) as on date have conducted 59,960 nos. of LPG Panchayats and safety clinics for education and awareness programs among PMUY beneficiaries.
  4. To make LPG affordable to poor families, OMCs have introduced 5 Kg refill option to Ujjwala beneficiaries where in Ujjwala beneficiary can swap 14.2 Kg cylinder with 5 Kg refill and vice versa.
  5. PMUY implementation has been appreciated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and termed it as a decisive intervention to check the indoor health pollution being faced by the women of the country.

Some issues concerning the scheme:

  1. Issue of refill and affordability: Refilling of LPG gas connections saw a fall in refill from 35000 in 2016-17 to 13000 in 2018. Also, several complaints of affordability were raised as a reluctance of adoption was shown. While the number of LPG connections across India has increased by an impressive 16.26% since the scheme was launched, the use of gas cylinders increased by only 9.83%.
  2. Behavioural Limitations: It is difficult to give up on age-old practices of using traditional chulhas with a lack of awareness among people regarding benefits of use of LPG gases.
  3. Inactive and corrupt uses: Many inactive accounts were identified, with some accounts bearing false beneficiaries using LPG for commercial and profitable purposes.

Significance of PMUY:

  1. Health: Research showed that people using solid biomass frequently suffer from headaches, nausea, chronic bronchitis and many skin diseases. Indoor air pollution and acute respiratory illnesses caused by it were observed in most rural women.
  2. Women empowerment: Ujjwala has empowered women and protected them and their families using clean burning fuel by helping prevent a significant number of acute respiratory illnesses and other ailments.
  3. Safety: Women going to the forests for collecting firewood are also often exposed to health and safety issues, even sexual harassment at times. This is considerably decreased because of the LPG connections.
  4. Economic empowerment: Release of LPG connection under this Scheme shall be in the name of the women belonging to the BPL family enabling the subsidy provision in the women’s account. Also, using LPG saves time for women as they do not have to collect solid fuel and then use it for cooking, with this cooking time can be effectively used in other economic activities. Women in many villages formed self-help groups to indulge in community economic activities in their free time.
  5. Environment: There is a definite positive impact on forest cover and the environment from stopping the use of firewood.
  6. Youth employment: It will also provide employment for rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas. Employment in the logistics and maintenance services are an additional benefit.

Way Forward

  • LPG works well, but only for non-poor households. Others need affordable alternatives to choose from, such as solar energy and solar cookers, smokeless chulhas, biogas plants and electric cookers where electricity is cheap.
  • Good research and development efforts need to be made in the public and private sectors to explore these alternatives.
  • As one solution may not fit all, there is a need to offer a set of energy sources to households so that each of them finds a suitable energy for itself.

 

Karnataka’s State Mental Health Authority

Indian Express

GS 2: Government Policies and Interventions

Context:

  • Recently, the Karnataka government has begun preparations to constitute a State Mental Health Authority. 

About 

  • The State Cabinet approved the Karnataka State Mental Healthcare Rules 2021 for implementing the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 of the Centre, and providing health care and services for persons with mental illness.
  • Under the rules, a State Mental Health Authority would be constituted.

Objectives and Need: 

  • Mental Health issues were reported widely among citizens in the state, especially during the crisis linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • This pushed experts, including those from the National Institute Of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru, to pressure the government to constitute an exclusive body to keep mental healthcare services provided in the state in check.
    • Social and economic causes, such as loss of jobs, loss of income, death of family members and fear, have triggered mental health conditions among the people.

Functions: 

  • The Karnataka Mental Health Authority will be in charge of collating and publishing a list of clinical psychologists, mental health nurses and psychiatric social workers registered to work as mental health professionals.
  • This registry will be utilised to ensure services are offered in a timely and efficient manner to the needy across the state

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