New Delhi: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has flagged widespread irregularities in the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), a marquee scheme of the Modi government that is aimed at providing LPG connections to below poverty line (BPL) households.
Some of these irregularities include the issuance of more than one LPG connection to the same household, LPG distributors extending connections illegally to unintended beneficiaries, bogus allocations to non-existent households, use of cylinders for commercial purposes and issuance of connections to men and minors in violation of the scheme’s guidelines.
The scheme, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2016 was to provide LPG connections to 5 crore BPL households to ensure that they move away from cooking through firewood and coal.
It mandated that the connections will be issued in the name of the woman of the household and the BPL beneficiaries are identified through the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) data.
Modi govt yet to carry out third party audit: CAG
The CAG report, tabled in Parliament on 11 December, said despite PMUY guidelines stipulating that the government may undertake third-party audit of the scheme, no such audit has been carried out till date.
It also found various instances of misuse and fraud under the scheme, lax norms for identification of beneficiaries and a lack of adequate due diligence at the field level.
The report has also raised the risk of diversion of domestic cylinders for commercial use as the auditor noticed that 1.98 lakh PMUY beneficiaries had an average annual consumption of more than 12 cylinders. The CAG has observed that this “seems improbable in view of their BPL status”.
In an indication of misuse, the report found that 13.96 lakh beneficiaries consumed 3 to 41 refills in a month. In more than 3.44 lakh instances, oil marketing companies issued 2 to 20 refills in a day to a PMUY beneficiary having single-bottle cylinder connection.
The auditor also pointed out that the oil marketing companies did not carry out deduplication on the Aadhaar cards of all family members to prevent the beneficiaries from getting a second connection. It has, however, found that nearly 42 per cent of the 3.78 crore LPG connections were issued on the basis of the beneficiary’s Aadhaar card.
‘Beneficiary numbers inflated’
The report also flagged that 9,897 LPG connections were issued against the Abridged Household List Temporary Identification Numbers (AHL TINs) where names of all family members and the beneficiary were blank in SECC-2011 list.
AHL TINs are the numbers used to identify the beneficiaries of the Ujjwala yojana from the SECC database.
Similarly, 4.10 lakh connections were issued against AHL TINs where entire details of a family except that of one member was blank in SECC-2011 list. The audit also found that 1.88 lakh connections were released against identification number of males and 8.59 lakh connections were released to beneficiaries who were minor as per SECC-2011 data.
The CAG also found that there were 52,271 cases of aliases being used to project that the households are part of the beneficiary list. Further, in 18 per cent of the 4,348 KYCs verified by the audit, it was found that AHL TINS of “intended beneficiaries were used by LPG distributors to extend benefits to un-intended persons”.
Also, nearly 42,187 connections were released against invalid AHL TINs that did not exist in the SECC-2011 data. There was also a mismatch in the name of 12.46 lakh beneficiaries between PMUY database and SECC-2011 data.
The audit also found that the beneficiaries are still not using cooking gas cylinders regularly with refill consumption falling.
“Encouraging the sustained usage of LPG remains a big challenge as the annual average refill consumption of 1.93 crore PMUY consumers (who have completed more than one year as on 31 March 2018) was only 3.66 refills as worked out by audit,” the report said. “Similar analysis for 3.18 crore PMUY beneficiaries as on 31 December 2018 revealed that refill consumption declined to 3.21 refills per annum.”