More than 70 per cent of Indian households use LPG as their primary cooking fuel and nearly 85 per cent have LPG connections, according to an independent study released on Monday by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).
However, as many as 57 per cent households in the country still continue to use traditional solid fuels either exclusively or in combination with LPG. The study noted that of the 47 per cent of Indian households that use only LPG, nearly 91 per cent are located in urban regions while 28 per cent LPG users are located in rural regions.
Indoor air pollution
Stating that using traditional solid fuels such as firewood, dung cakes and kerosene for cooking increases exposure to indoor air pollution, the study pointed out that LPG’s use as primary cooking fuel needs to be improved in rural areas of Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal.
The CEEW study also highlighted that a majority of households that use traditional solid fuels along with LPG cited high cylinder costs as one of their reasons for stacking fuels.
“This finding is significant in the context of the ongoing surge in LPG prices, which have risen by ₹240 per cylinder (a 40 per cent hike) over the past one year. Lower household incomes during the pandemic and the suspension of LPG subsidies in May 2020 have made LPG unaffordable for a section of the population,” the report added.
Other reasons for fuel stacking include a preference for cooking on traditional chulha s , the availability of free biomass and the limited availability of LPG refills.
Shalu Agrawal, Senior Programme Lead, CEEW said, “The government deserves much credit for its efforts to expand clean cooking energy access, primarily through the first phase of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY). However, 15 per cent of Indian households still lack LPG connections.”
Agrawal added, “Phase II of PMUY should focus on bridging the coverage gap through targeted beneficiary identification, improved enrolment processes and awareness campaigns. Further, policymakers should prioritise on reinstating LPG refill subsidies to wean consumers away from solid fuels, which disproportionately impact the health of women and children.”
The CEEW study also recommends incentivising rural distributors to improve home delivery of LPG by provide them with higher commissions per refill and link the commission amount to connection density. “LPG programmes must be linked to broader social assistance or rural development schemes,” the study stated.
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