There are no LPG connections for people in Bailhongal taluk.
Madhavari.L, a resident of Anigol village in Bailhongal taluk in Belgaum district, doesn’t have an LPG connection from the past 30 to 40 years. She applied, under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, for an LPG connection but she didn’t get a connection, Hence, she has to use firewood and chulha for cooking.
“I face minor respiratory diseases such as cough due to burning of firewood while cooking. I also face inflammation in my eyes”, says Madhavari.
Madhavari also cannot buy an LPG connection as the price of an LPG cylinder is around Rs 6,000 to 7,000. This amount is also expensive for her as she comes under the BPL category.
There are around 26,000 households in Bailhongal which do not have an LPG connection.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, a nationwide scheme of LPG connections, women under BPL category can apply and get a free LPG connection.
The taluk has 3 gas agencies that are responsible for distributing LPG connections to all the villages. However, all the agencies- Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum- say that the villagers do not provide all proper and required documents and that is why most of their applications are rejected.
Another villager and a college student, Seema.H, had applied for a free LPG connection under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. However, she didn’t get a connection just like Madhavari. Hence, she spent the money that she got in her scholarship to buy an LPG connection. However, she cannot use the LPG cylinder as she cannot afford to purchase a refill. Thus, she has to resort to cooking with firewood and chulha.
According to the reports of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, out of the total 8 crore connections, Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of LPG connections distributed which are 1,47,86,745 whereas Chandigarh has the lowest number of LPG connections distributed which are 88.
“Everything else including toilet, electricity and water is provided regularly in the village. However, LPG connections are not provided”, says Madhavari.
“I have applied for a free LPG connection since 3 to 4 months in the village panchayat. The panchayat people always tell that they will soon update them about the connection. After that, no update is given to us”, says Madhavari.
A report states that using firewood, coal, and fuel could not only have serious health implications on the women but also on her family members. Mainly, respiratory diseases such as cough, bronchitis, heart attack, elevated blood pressure etc are caused by firewood. Also, inflammation in the eyes is also caused by firewood.
“People in rural areas mostly use firewood for cooking. They do not use LPG connections. For now, since the target of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana is achieved, it has ended. But, if the government decides, it will re-open”, says Basavaraj Vadaratti, Food Inspector, Bailhongal.
“Using firewood and chulha for cooking results in the wake of respiratory diseases and other diseases. Because wood is being cut, forests are also getting destroyed. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana should re-open and start providing LPG connections”, says Aparna.D, Consumer Rights Activist.
A report by Clean Energy Access Network, bio-gas, piped natural gas, solar energy etc are alternatives to the traditional methods of cooking.