LPG distributors raise concerns over govt haste in PMUY implementation

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LPG distributors have raised serious concerns regarding the government’s haste in implementing the targets set under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) which is aimed at providing poor households with LPG connections, saying that rushed implementation could compromise the safety of the recipients.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas on Wednesday issued a statement highlighting the steps it had been taking to ensure the safety of the LPG cylinder recipients, saying that it has been providing safety handouts, safety briefings at the time of installation and has been organising safety melas and clinics to increase awareness.

‘Diktat on targets’

The oil marketing companies have sent letters to the distributors exhorting them to meet the PMUY targets “without fail” or face the consequences, pressure that the distributors say only adds to the safety hazard.

“It is a very humble and final request and advice to take corrective action and reach the target of 3,000 registrations by September 30, 2016 without fail,” said the letter, a copy of which is in the possession of The Hindu. “Please note that suitable action may be initiated if it is established during investigation that non-registration of eligible PMUY customers was due to lack of efforts on the part of the distributorship which has caused loss of opportunity for the corporation to proactively participate in the ministry-driven initiative…”

The Federation of LPG Distributors of India (FLDI) has written 11 letters to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas regarding this, but has not received a single response, PV Rao, President of FLDI, told The Hindu. The organisation — representing 10,000 LPG distributors across 22 states — will launch a pan-India token strike on December 1, and an indefinite strike on December 15 if its requests to meet the government’s representatives are not met.

“Even the government’s promotional videos for PMUY show cylinders being given to houses that are made of entirely flammable material or being used in unsafe ways such as putting the stove on the floor next to the cylinder,” according to Mr. Rao. “The safe practice is to place the cylinder on a pedestal and have the stove above the cylinder.”

The onus of providing the connections to the right households is on the distributors, who are provided with a list of eligible households from the Socio-Economic and Caste Census 2011 (SECC).

“The SECC list is gravely flawed,” Pawan Soni, General Secretary of FLDI, said at a press conference on Tuesday. “There are a number of poor people not on the list, and many affluent people on the list. The list is about 70 per cent flawed in rural areas and as much as 90 per cent flawed in urban areas.”

In addition to this, the FLDI said that the implementation of PMUY is being done in an unsafe manner, with poor households receiving LPG cylinders without knowing or implementing the safety procedures associated with them.

According to FLDI, more than 90 per cent of the households of the economically backward beneficiaries fail to meet the safety parameters for installing an LPG connection due to lack of infrastructure and poor living conditions.