India eases rules in scheme to provide cooking gas to poor people

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India has relaxed the rules of a scheme to provide easy access to cooking gas that will benefit lakhs of more poor people, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Tuesday.

The move could mean an increase in India’s imports of liquefied petroleum gas.

India in 2016 launched the Ujjwala scheme, which has provided access to cooking gas cylinders without consumers having to pay a deposit to fuel retailers.

It allowed eight crore Indian women to lead healthy lives because they no longer have to use smoky stoves.

India now aims to cover 1 crore more beneficiaries in a second phase of the scheme, oil minister Hardeep Singh Puri said.

India is a net exporter of refined fuels, but a push to expand the use of cleaner fuel has led to a spike in LPG imports. The country depends on overseas supplies for about 55% of its LPG consumption, official data shows.

Modi said the rules had been relaxed to enable migrant workers to benefit from the scheme.

He said that rather than having to provide proof of their address to obtain supplies, they simply have to declare where they live.

Along with deposit-free access to LPG supplies, the beneficiaries will be provided with a stove free of charge.

Under the scheme, the first gas cylinder is free, but consumers have to pay for subsequent cylinders.

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