New Delhi: The National Democratic Alliance government aims to provide clean cooking fuel in the form of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to more than 95% households across the country in the next three years, entailing an investment of Rs30,000 crore.

According to a plan disclosed by oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan in the national capital, the plan to achieve near total coverage by 2019 will benefit about 34% new households that do not have access to LPG.

“To cater to the demand, we envisage an investment of the order of Rs25,000-30,000 crore in LPG infrastructure including import terminals, pipelines and bottling plants," Pradhan said.

The LPG drive has expanded the fuel’s customer base to 73% of households in April 2017 from 62% in April 2016. This is expected to go up to 83% next April, according to oil ministry projections.

The 2011 census said there were about 24.7 crore households in the country. The oil ministry’s projection is to provide LPG connections to 26.87 crore customers by April 2019.

Affordable energy for all is a key theme of the Narendra Modi administration, which is also working with states to provide uninterrupted power for all by December 2018.

Fuel retailers Indian Oil Corp., Bharat Petroleum Corp. and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. are planning to add another 4,500 LPG distributors this fiscal to their existing LPG distributorship of 18,500.

The state-owned companies will also add 47 new LPG bottling plants over the next two years to the existing 189, expanding total capacity by nearly 25% to 21 million tonnes in 2018-19, Mint reported on 25 April.

New investments in LPG infrastructure are being made by companies based on a 9.8% surge in LPG consumption in 2016-17 to 21.5 million tones. The companies issued a record 3.45 crore LPG connections in 2016-17, including the 2.2 crore security deposit-free connections to poor women given under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Pradhan said.

Under the scheme launched in May last year, 5 crore women from poor households will be given LPG connections by 2018-19. The minister said priority is being given to districts where LPG consumption is below the national average of 61% of households.

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