Silent killer of rural kitchen : chulha still in use

Capstone Environment Health Sindgi Taluk

Sindigi taluk is long way from completely adopting LPG due to untimely refilling of gas cylinders and safety measures undertaken.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna was launched on 1st May , 2016 with a target of providing 5 crore gas connections to the household sectors that later raised upto 8 crore this year. It has although been a successful programme ,but is lacking behind the beneficiaries that are not coming timely to refill the cylinders. The women of Sindigi taluk still use chulha due to untimely refill of gas cylinders and lack of door-to-door facility.

Under the Ujjwala Yojana scheme , a one-time grant of Rs 1600 is provided by the government for the Below poverty Line people. After every refilling, the subsidy amount gets transferred in every customer’s bank accounts once the loan amount gets recovered completely,says the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. But going by what the residents say, the subsidy amount does not get transferred in their bank accounts even after promises made.

One of the villagers namely Mrs Devakki Kalappa Talakeri stated that ,” I have no gas connection and am using chulhas for the past number of years . I applied for the connection two years back ,but haven’t received the connection till date. We come from a poor background and it becomes very difficult for us. “

Mrs Talakeri cooking on chulha due to unavailability of gas connection

Considering the problems these women face due to non-availability of LPG connections, there are other factors which leads to such a cause. The poverty-stricken people are stung by the rise in prices for which they move back to burning of firewood and coal. Also citing the safety concerns, being one of the reasons for not using LPG connection.

Refilling the cylinder extracts a greater fraction of monthly consumption for which they are likely to get a refill immediately after the cylinder gets empty. Lack of door to door facility in many villages is being witnessed for poor refill rates among the consumers.

Misba Nadav, resident of Budihaph village says, ” It’s just been months that we are using gas cylinders .It becomes difficult for my father to carry the cylinder to the shop for refilling. The suppliers usually take 3-4 days to refill and they don’t care even after complaining.”

The refills are not hundred percent subsidized  , price being a major concern . The gas distributors have grown only up to 16.4% as per the records stated. Price of the cylinder increases with consecutive refills. Villages like Ganihar , Rampur pa ,people have to incur transportation cost to ascertain the refill of LPG connection. The official estimates have shown that the users who have a connection ,use less than the average marked i.e between 35% to 50%.

The major problem of Chulha is the smoke that is produced inside by burning of wood, dung and a mixture of clay . This smoke leads to acute respiratory problems , eye infection , also leading to breathlessness, headache , chest discomfort and also can be lethal for children. Even after the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was launched, its failing in achieving its target by the use of fire woods and biomass fuels leading to an impact on the public health.

Use of fire woods and biomass fuels leading to respiratory problems

Dr A.A.Maggi , Sindigi Government hospital says, ” We see nearly 10-15 patients visiting the hospital for bronchitis and asthma.We train them to use gas cylinders and explain the purpose of it.

 The LPG subsidy during the first nine months of the fiscal year has already crossed the last year by 23%.In 2020-21, the government is expected to spend Rs 37,256 crore on LPG subsidy. With the increase in the price of the cylinders , the subsidy amount for the consumers have been increased from Rs 494 to Rs 567 during the period of February 2019 to February 2020. The use of LPG connection has still not been a primary source of cooking fuel ,as per the survey conducted by the non-profit Council for Energy, Environment and water.

The LPG supplier is of the opinion that they get cylinders from Solapur. Presently there is not much of a problem . ” We have adequate supply but if the customers do not come for refilling, then they put the entire blame on us highlighting the delay of supply.”

  In order to promote the use of 5kg cylinders so that the refill rates increases, there has been a separate subsidy plan that has already been worked out under the existing direct benefit transfer scheme, (DBT)as stated by the reports.   It is also because of the safety measures that much of the families don’t use LPG connection. In order to have alternative cleaner fuels , the government should take efforts on clean gas stoves and bio-gas plants.

Several villages have had the connection , but it is still taking some time for LPG connection to be the most popular cooking fuel. Targets have been set and a new change is yet to be evolved in rural areas.


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