Despite PM's Ujjwala Yojana, Many In UP Villages Still Cooking On Stoves

In 2016, Guddi Devi, a resident of Jigni Khas village in Uttar Pradesh's Ballia district, was among the first to receive a gas connection under PM Modi's Ujjwala Yojana scheme. Three years on she still lights her traditional "chulha" with firewood and cow dung cakes to cook meals


Women in UP villages said the monthly cost of cylinder refills is too expensive for them

Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh: 

In 2016, Guddi Devi, a resident of Jigni Khas village in Uttar Pradesh's Ballia district, was among the first to receive a gas connection under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Ujjwala Yojana scheme.

The wife of a brick kiln worker and a mother of three, she received the connection from PM Modi himself during the launch of the scheme in the eastern UP district. The photographs of her receiving the connection from the prime minister made her an instant celebrity and won her considerable media attention.

However, three years on, the unofficial poster girl for the prime minister's scheme still lights her traditional "chulha" (stove) with firewood and cow dung cakes every day to cook meals for her family. 

Guddi says her family cannot afford the cost of monthly refill of a gas cylinder. She managed only three in 2016, four in 2017, three again in 2018 and two, so far, this year.

However, despite the Ujjwala scheme not helping Guddi as much as she may have liked or even expected, she claims PM Modi still has her support.

"Modi has done good for us. His intentions are right. I will refill the cylinder when I have money. Otherwise how will I do it? Should I pay the fees of my children or should I get the gas cylinder refilled? If I meet Modi-ji again, then I will ask him to reduce prices", she states.

"Maybe he should give us free cylinders", she adds with a laugh. 

Ballia votes in the seventh and last phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The sitting parliamentarian is Bharat Singh of the BJP but the party has fielded Virendra Singh Mast from here this time against the Samajwadi Party's Sanatan Pandey.

Meanwhile, only 3 km from Guddi's home, the Pragya Gas Agency in Garhwar village manages gas connections for over 1,000 homes across 25 villages, including that in which Guddi Devi lives. Workers say that after the first (free) cylinder, hardly anyone gets regular refills.

"The rate of refills is between 10 and 15 per cent; this is a monthly average. Some people are regular but the others don't take refills at all. This is because they are poor and they have other options like cow dung cakes. The rate should be lesser so everyone can buy it", Akhilesh Gupta, an employee at the agency, told NDTV.

This is the same story in village after village in Ballia district. 

In Aundi, Kalavati Kanaujia and her daughter-in-law Pinky received Ujjwala connections two years apart. They manage separate families and both say their husbands, both brick kiln workers, simply do not make enough money to afford monthly refills. 

Asked if there might be a day she cooks only with the cylinder, she retorts, "That may not happen. I have a family of four. If I start cooking every meal on it I will not be able to afford it".

"Maybe the government should give it for free. If it doesn't then how will I refill a cylinder every month?" she asks. 

A November 2018 report by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), an India-based think-tank, showed that the proportion of households dependent on biomass as a primary source of cooking fell from 85 per cent in 2015 to 61 per cent in 2018. 

In 2015, 88 per cent said high monthly expenditure was the main reason they either didn't have or couldn't maintain an LPG connection. In 2018, that number declined by just 1 per cent to 87 per cent, indicating high costs of the cylinders remain a stumbling block in the long-term adaptation of the scheme.

Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.

NDTV Beeps - your daily newsletter

................................ Advertisement ................................

................................ Advertisement ................................

................................ Advertisement ................................