LPG As Clean Cooking Fuel In Rural India: Vision 2020

The National Sample Survey Organization of India, in their 2015 report, mentioned that around 15% of the rural households bought LPG in India from an observed tenure from 2011-2012. The figure further goes down as we move from the urban regions to the rural, since only 11% of the adopted LPG is used as a primary cooking fuel, usually termed as the ‘sustained and exclusive’.

Although global usage of LPG has tended to grow significantly, the rural areas are still not appropriately equipped with this development. Pieces of literature around the web deal with two crucial aspects of this alleviate shortcomings: how to raise the LPG adoption rate in rural areas, and how to keep the pace elevating by eliminating the traditional cooking systems.

Affordability

The affordability of the LPG in rural India may be studied using two different templates. Firstly, of course, with the introduction of subsidies by the government, and secondly, by the analysis of the rural economy. As far as the domestic platform is concerned, the Indian government provides grants on LPG equivalent to 8 billion dollars USD. More in-depth analysis of the system reveals that the universal subsidy regime (keeping all the income levels into considerations), has failed to enhance the trend of LPG adoption and their use in the low-income category of people communities.

Although usage of LPG has tended to grow significantly, the rural areas are still not appropriately equipped with this development. Image courtesy to Livemint.

According to the studies, the communities with higher financial stability receive more than 50% of the LPG subsidies, whereas the groups with low income receive only 15% of the same. On an additional note, people in urban areas spend around 3.3% of their monthly expenditure on LPG compared to 8% with communities in rural areas.

The idea of providing subsidies initially planned for the weaker section of the population fails miserably as it is not benefiting the consumers in rural areas. Thus, the relationship of the LPG and the finance is not linear since it includes several additional socio-economic factors such as caste, educational status of household head, women’s decision-making status in the household, and availability of biomass.

Accessibility

The Rajiv Gandhi Grameen LPG Vitaran Yojana (RGGLVY) was a central scheme launched in 2009 to accelerate the LPG usage in the rural landscape of the country. The government had initially tied up with the Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited, Indian Oil Corporation Limited and Hindustan Petrochemicals Limited to initiate the pilot stage of the project by setting up low cost small rural distribution centers primarily to target the agricultural community.

However, a study carried out after six years of the introduction of the scheme revealed that the number of distributing centers catering to rural households was comparatively lower when compared with the urban landscape. Analogues to the central project, various state governments such as Orissa, Karnataka, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh had launched their plans to aid the poor section of the community and the rural areas. The ‘Deepam‘ scheme launched by the Andhra Pradesh Government targets the people who are categorized under the Below Poverty level redirects on waiving the initial cost of purchasing an LPG scheme.

Although there has been a great effort to address the problem, the maintenance of the distributing channels was not up to the mark. The logistics challenge with transporting and storing LPG cylinders near the rural areas is another huge problem. Also, despite these schemes introduced by the government, there has been a light demand in the LPG, potentially because of the lack of awareness.

The rural infrastructure, including the connectivity of the roads and the maintenance of the streets along with distribution drawbacks (such as unavailability of the home delivery facility), still needs to be amended to escalate the LPG usages in rural households.

Awareness

Considering the case in the urban areas, approximately 30% of the energy required for cooking, taking into account the top 3 income group deciles, comes from the solid fuels. The same context shifts for a rural scenario, where more than 50% of the cooking fuel comes from the biomass system, even in the top tier of income groups. The results, on a general note, imply that if we maneuver the affordability and accessibility of LPG, along with an improvised scheme of awareness and sustained use of LPG, we can bring up the percentages of LPG users in the rural community.

The adoption of a new technique of cooking relies heavily on the passage of information amongst the household community members. A flow of information among the non-acquainted community also boosts the probability of introducing LPG in the rural context, for which planned awareness is a pivotal aspect.

With a well-planned and extensive statistical research, the adoption and the sustained use of LPG in rural India may be upgraded by enhancing the affordability, accessibility, and awareness.

Featured image for representation only.
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