Ujjwala scheme has the potential to be transformative but only if effective monitoring is done to prevent leakages. Comment.
The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana is a scheme of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas to provide LPG connections to women from Below Poverty Line (BPL) households. It provides a financial support of Rs 1600 for each LPG connection provided to the BPL households, interest free loan to purchase a stove and refill by Oil Marketing Companies. The cost of Rs. 1600 per connection, which includes a cylinder, pressure regulator, booklet, safety hose will be borne by the Government.
A recent audit of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) highlights problems that the government needs to address.
Problems with Ujjwala –
The goal was to give eight crore women LPG connections while 7.2 crore families have got the LPG connections, Aadhar linking has been patchy. Under PMUY scheme , 3.8 crore households were covered while the remaining 3.4 crore were covered under Extended Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (E-PMUY). As per CAG, in the 3.8 crore PMUY households, just 42% were linked with Aadhaar.
Sustained provision of LPG was one of the key goals of PMUY, which currently seems to be difficult as the present annual average of refill consumption for nearly two crore PMUY consumers was just 3.66 refills while, for the 3.2 crore beneficiaries, it declined to 3.21 refills as on December 31, 2018.
The diversion of domestic cylinders for commercial use was noticed for nearly two lakh PMUY beneficiaries who consumed more than 12 cylinders per year, which is unlikely given their BPL status. who had an annual consumption of more than 12 cylinders per year, which is unlikely to have been a genuine demand given their BPL status.
Around 14 lakh beneficiaries consumed between three to 41 refills a month while in 3.44 lac cases, around two to twenty refills have been issued by IOC and HP to individual PMUY beneficiaries having single cylinder connection.
The audit also points to bank accounts of others being linked to Ujjwala scheme beneficiaries. During test check of KYC records, 100 such instances were noticed.
Way forward –
The audit makes a strong case for Aadhar linking with the beneficiaries (new and existing) to keep a check on duplication as well as identify if LPG is being diverted for commercial purposes. Rejigging software at OMCs can add to appropriate controls but e-KYC needs to be initiated as well. The scheme mentions third party audits to ensure leakages are eliminated which the government much implement at the earliest to ensure the Ujjwala scheme is on track.