Ahmedabad: Gujarat is set to emerge as the first state to offer subsidized piped natural gas (PNG) to poor households. If successful, the scheme that promotes cleaner cooking fuel in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state will be rolled out nationally, said two senior state government officials aware of the plans.

Gujarat, which has an edge over other states in terms of PNG connections, thanks to its well-developed pipeline infrastructure and easy availability of gas, will launch the new PNG/LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) Sahay Yojana—an extension to the Ujjwala Yojana. Chief minister Vijay Rupani will unveil the new scheme at a function in Bharuch on Tuesday. The scheme is meant for below poverty line households.

“Yes, Gujarat is the first state to launch a PNG scheme for the AAY (Antyodaya Anna Yojana) and BPL (below poverty line) category households in select urban areas in the country… Gujarat is a leader in supply of PNG as domestic fuel. This PNG/LPG Sahay Yojana will be expanded in other parts of the country based on success of pilot planned for 2.32 lakh urban AAY/BPL households with the help of city gas distribution companies and state-owned oil marketing companies during 2018-19," said one of the two senior government officials quoted earlier.

The scheme for select urban areas will supplement Ujjwala for BPL-AAY households not covered under Ujjwala to help supply households with clean fuel, the official added.

As per the scheme, the government will pay Rs1,600 as one-time subsidy per connection and Rs1,725 as loan to customers opting for a new PNG connection. As a result, a beneficiary will have to pay only Rs118 to get a new connection and a refundable security deposit of Rs50 per month for a period of 100 months.

The state has a good network of gas pipelines which makes it easy for the scheme to cover PNG connected households from Vapi to Dwarka and from Bhuj to Ahmedabad. The state has a pipeline network covering over 25,000km for city gas distribution.

The pipeline infrastructure and maintenance charges will be borne by city gas distribution companies.

In March the Gujarat government appointed Nitin Patil, chief executive officer of Gujarat Gas as the nodal officer to work out the details of the scheme and co-ordinate with various city gas retailers and the state government.

The centre had in 2015 announced an ambitious target of connecting 10 million households with piped gas in the next four years by 2019. On 30 June 2015, the total number of PNG connected households stood at 2.93 million. “The present number of households connected to PNG is more than 45 lakhs of which about 17 lakh households are in Gujarat. A policy like the one Gujarat is planning for PNG households will certainly give a major boost in the country’s push for cleaner cooking fuel," said an oil and gas expert who was speaking on condition of anonymity.

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