New Delhi: Five years after the Narendra Modi government launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) to reduce dependency of households on polluting low-cost fuel sources, 45 per cent of the urban slum households in six states still depend on traditional fuels for cooking, according to a new study released Wednesday.
The study conducted by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) found that 16 per cent of the households are still using traditional fuels such as firewood, dung cakes, agriculture residue, charcoal and kerosene as their primary fuel that increase exposure to indoor air pollution.
CEEW’s Cooking Energy Access Survey 2020 was conducted in urban slums in the states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The survey covered 656 households across 83 urban slums in 58 districts.
According to the study, 86 per cent of urban slum households in these states have an LPG connection, but over a third of these use LPG with other polluting fuels.
“A significant share of the urban slum population is struggling to afford using LPG for all their cooking, especially due to the rising fuel prices and the economic impact of the pandemic,” Shaily Jha, research analyst at CEEW and lead author of the study, said in a statement.
Indoor air pollution, doorstep delivery of LPG cylinders
According to the study, 88 per cent household use LPG as their primary fuel during monsoon, while in winter, less than 45 per cent do so. The increased use of polluting fuels in winter could be because during these months, the fuel requirement for non-cooking tasks such as heating water increases, the study says.
This exposes households to double burden of indoor as well as outdoor air pollution due to unfavourable weather conditions.
Long-term exposure to emissions from biomass burning also makes the population more vulnerable to the severe risks of Covid-19 infection, the team states.
The study highlights that 37 per cent of LPG-using slum households do not receive doorstep delivery of cylinders, an important factor influencing LPG’s exclusive use.
It further found that only in half the households women decide on when to purchase LPG refills, indicating women’s limited participation in decision-making.
CEEW recommends leveraging platforms like LPG panchayats to increase awareness regarding the process of subsidy calculation and disbursement for households.
“As part of the next phase of the PMUY, the government must target poor households without an LPG connection in urban slums,” Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, CEEW, said in the statement.
“Policymakers must also nudge oil marketing companies and distributors to improve home delivery of LPG refills in slum areas to increase exclusive use of LPG,” he added.
“Also, as the LPG refill prices rise, the government must target vulnerable households — beyond PMUY beneficiaries — with differential subsidy support for using LPG in a sustained manner,” he said.
(Edited by Neha Mahajan)