New Delhi: The government on Friday met its target of giving 50 million liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections to poor households without upfront charges under the Ujjwala scheme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2016.

Ujjwala is one of the Modi administration’s flagship pro-poor schemes and is considered the equivalent of the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime’s rural jobs scheme.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan handed over an LPG connection to a beneficiary at Parliament House, completing the 50 million target, an official statement from the oil ministry said. State-owned oil marketing companies have met the 50 million target ahead of the March 2019 deadline.

The statement said that Uttar Pradesh has emerged as the biggest beneficiary with 8.7 million connections, followed by West Bengal with 6.7 million, Bihar with 6.1 million, Madhya Pradesh with 4.5 million and Rajasthan with 3.7 million. Odisha, the home state of oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who led the scheme’s implementation, received 3 million connections.

To cover more poor households, the government earlier this year revised the target to 80 million. The scheme enables the government to address indoor air pollution, which accounts for nearly a million deaths in the country, said the statement. It also helps in developing the market for LPG at a time policy makers are trying to increase the share of gas in the country’s energy mix as it is cleaner than other cooking fuels such as kerosene and fire wood.

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