Murshidabad: The recipients of cylinders of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) now total 2.5 crore women citizens. The 25 millionth connection was handed over to Gouri Sarkar of Raghunathgunj by President Pranab Mukherjee in the presence of Minister of State (independent charge) for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan and Member of Parliament Abhijit Mukherjee in a function held today at Jangipur, West Bengal.

While distributing PMUY connections to 11 beneficiaries, the president expressed his happiness while noting that the PMUY has crossed the 2.5 crore connections within a span of 14 months. The PMUY was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 1 May 2016 at Ballia, Uttar Pradesh, which is changing the lives of women from the underprivileged sections of society.

On the occasion, Pradhan thanked the president for taking his time out to present the symbolically significant LPG connection under the PMUY. He said that, since the launch of the PMUY in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh, more than 2.49 crore connections have been released, out of which the largest no of connections (55 lakh) have been released in Uttar Pradesh. He pointed out that the second largest number of LPG connections have been released in West Bengal. He added that to expand the reach of LPG connections in West Bengal, more than 600 distributors will be commissioned in the province, out of which more than 50 distributors will be commissioned in the Murshidabad district alone.

The PMUY aims at providing LPG connections to 5 crore BPL households by 2019. It is a part of the larger programme of adding 10 crore new LPG connections by 2019 to achieve full coverage of connections in Indian households.

This is the first time in the history of the country that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas is implementing a welfare scheme benefiting millions of women belonging to BPL households. Data from the Social Economic Caste Census (SECC)- 2011 determines BPL families.

Providing LPG connections to BPL households has been a landmark programme that is ensuring universal coverage of cooking gas in the country. The scheme of providing clean cooking fuel has also reduced drudgery and the time spent on cooking. It also provides employment to rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas. The PMUY provides assistance of Rs 1,600 to the woman beneficiary, comprising a security deposit of 14.2 kg cylinder and domestic pressure regulator, a suraksha hose, a domestic gas consumer card and installation charges.

In the financial year 2016-17, oil marketing companies have given 3.25 crore new connections across the country. This is the highest ever number of LPG connections released in any given year. In the current fiscal, the total number of active LPG consumers has risen to 20.7 crore, thanks to the PMUY.

LPG demand in the country has registered a growth rate of more than 33% in the past 3 years. More than 5,000 new distributors have been added in this period, primarily in rural areas, to address the enhanced LPG demand generated by the PMUY.