NASHIK: To take care of tribal women’s health and well-being, the central government announced the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana in 2016. Under this scheme, the government surpassed the target of 6 crore free domestic gas connections across the country. In Nashik district, 21 thousand beneficiaries belonging to the below poverty line category received the free gas connection under the scheme.
However, tribal leaders have stated that almost 50 per cent of families have turned their backs on the scheme as they cannot afford to buy another cylinder. They stated the situation is similar not only in Nashik district but also in the rest of the state.
The central government had appealed to the upper-middle class and middle-class families to ‘give it up’ for the success of the Ujjwala Yojana. In response, lakhs of families across the country had given up subsidies on LPG cylinders. Following this, the government provided a grant of Rs 1600 for each beneficiary of the Ujjwala Yojana. Even those donations have faded in the wind of inflation.
The central government has allocated Rs 12,800 crore in the budget to provide clean household fuel to BPL families, but the provision has proved ineffective due to rising prices.
Most of the tribals in Nashik district leave their village for six months and migrate to Niphad, Nashik. They leave in the rainy season and again after December ends. They can’t afford to bring the cylinder from their taluka to Nashik, Niphad. They don’t get the cylinder from Nashik. Therefore, they shift to using the stove. The wood cutting for the lighting of the stove has been initiated, said Lucky Jadhav, a tribal leader.
The state government needs to consider their plight and come up with some policy changes to aid the tribals. The scheme doesn’t serve any purpose if it fails to serve the BPL families.
"The concerned officials need to do thorough research and generate the data regarding the usage of cylinders by each tribal group. Thereafter, they need to come up with a plan to supply cylinders regularly at subsidised rates to these groups. A proper plan shall aid the tribals and help in saving the forest." - Dr Prashant Bhadane