Jalandhar, September 24
In a big setback to women under Below Poverty Line (BPL), Punjab Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal has done away with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana in the state.Among the first decisions during the current fiscal year, Manpreet Badal after assuming the charge of Finance Minister stopped the supply of gas chulhas for women under BPL category. The last free supply of gas chulhas continued till March 2017.
The scheme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi under which LPG connections were to be provided by the centre government while the then SAD-BJP government has announced to provide free gas chulhas to women under BPL category.Former Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had announced the welfare measure during a programme in Jalandhar in November last year. The then Akali government had tied up with gas agencies for supply of gas chulhas in Punjab.
However, contrary to this, after coming to power, finance minister altogether stopped the supply of gas chulhas for women under BPL families. Notably, for the last six months, no gas chulhas were being supplied by the state government.Jyoti, a domestic maid said, “We kept doing the rounds of the local councilor and the gas agency owner, only to learn that gas chulhas were not available for free. Around a month ago, I bought a gas chulha for Rs 1000 from my hard earned savings, as it was difficult to cook in the open on traditional wood chulha.”
Another daily wager, Kaushalya said that they too had to shell out around Rs 1100 for buying a gas chulha recently. “We were told that the state government was providing free gas chulhas but they are not available now. Around three months ago, we got LPG connection and had to shell out a big amount”, she said.
Davinder Singh, a supplier from Kohli gas agency said that the no gas chulhas were being supplied by the state government. “The previous government has set aside a budget of Rs 5 crore to cover BPL families but the supply was stopped since March this year”, he said.It is pertinent to mention here that the LPG connections and steel chulhas were to be provided to all 7 lakh BPL households, who had no domestic gas connections in Punjab. Out of the total 65 lakh households in the state, about 7 lakh were using kerosene and traditional methods for cooking. The idea was to provide smoke free kitchen to BPL women in each household.
As symbolic launch of the scheme, as many as 10 women from BPL families were handed over connections and chulhas in Jalandhar by Sukhbir Badal and Minister of State (MoS) Dharmendra Pradhan along with MoS Vijay Sampla last year.
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