Guwahati: The Centre’s flagship scheme Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) has not only provided clean fuel to poor households, but also entailed an investment of over Rs 3,000 crore in the northeast, a senior official has said.
It has created more than 3,000 jobs in the region during the last two-and-half years as well, he said.
The ambitious programme, being implemented by the three PSU oil marketing companies IOCL, HPCL and BPCL, has increased the LPG customer base to over 94 lakh in October 2019 from 48.3 lakh on April 30, 2017, the official said.
The PMUY was rolled out on May 1, 2017 in the northeast, a year after the scheme was set in motion first in Uttar Pradesh.
The State Level Coordinator for Assam (Petroleum Products) Uttiya Bhattacharyya said that the LPG penetration in the region has gone up to nearly 90 per cent from 48 per cent two years ago.
“The social objective of the PMUY to make the cleaner fuel available to households was achieved. But beyond that, it has made a tremendous impact in the region in terms of investment, job creation, women empowerment and boosting the rural sector,” Bhattacharyya told PTI in an interview here.
The PSU major Indian Oil Corporation has already ramped up its capacity at six bottling plants at a cost of Rs 149 crore while it is investing over Rs 290 crore to set up two greenfield plants at Agartala in Tripura and Barapani in Meghalaya by 2020, he said.
Bhattacharyya, who is also the Indian Oil Corporation Chief General Manager (IndianOil-AOD), said that the company has invested more than Rs 2,500 crore to upgrade the technology at its Bongaigaon refinery in Assam to meet the rise in demand.
“There is also a plan to invest nearly Rs 100 crore in coming years to further upgrade the technologies at IOC’s LPG bottling plants. In other words, total investment of over Rs 3,000 crore are being invested to cater to the additional demand due to PMUY,” he said.
The focus on strengthening productivity has resulted in an increase of the storage capacity by 65 per cent to 9,469 MT and bottling capacity by 98 per cent to 2,060 MT every day.
The public sector undertaking Indian Oil Corporation currently has 10 LPG bottling plants across the northeast and these are functioning at 100 per cent utilisation.
On job creation, Bhattacharyya said the entire LPG business engages huge manpower at various levels such as production in bottling plants, sales offices, distribution network, delivery of cylinders at households, distributor mechanics and transportation among others.
“All put together, there are over 22,500 people engaged in the LPG business in the northeast as of today. The number has grown from 19,500 during May 2017, when we had launched the PMUY,” he said.
Besides, a large number of social groups, students and health workers were engaged in identification and enrolment of the beneficiaries, and the programme helped the people for more income generation, Bhattacharyya said.
Highlighting another important aspect, the senior IOC official said that the future of the company’s LPG business lies in the rural market only as the cities will be connected by piped gas in the next few years.
“As the cities will move towards piped gas services, our future in LPG lies in rural areas. PMUY forced us to focus more in rural market. So, the scheme was important for our sustenance of the LPG business. The strategic shift of focus on the rural market, where the future growth lies, was driven by the PMUY,” Bhattacharyya said.
IOC currently has 430 rural distributors out of its total 818 dealers across the region, he said adding that out of its total distributors, 150 are women. Two years ago, there were 80 women distributors.
“The engagement of new women distributors under PMUY has increased by 70 per cent compared to April 2017. The empowered women are generating not only employment, but also adding value to the LPG business,” he added. (PTI)
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