Mumbai: Finance minister Arun Jaitley expanded the ambit of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (Ujjwala scheme) to include 80 million poor families who will be given free cooking gas connections.

The Ujjwala scheme was started by the government in May 2016. Since then, over 30 million households have got access to cooking gas connections.

Under the scheme, the government aims to provide cooking gas to poor households. The scheme aims to replace cooking fuels used mostly in rural India with clean liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

The scheme allows the government to provide cooking gas connections to poor women along with financial assistance over a period of three years. Eligible families are identified through the Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 data.

Ujjwala scheme provides financial support of Rs1,600 for each cooking gas connection to eligible households. The connections are given in the name of the women heads of households. The government also provides an equated monthly instalment facility for meeting the cost of stove and refills.

The three fuel retailers—Indian Oil Corp. Ltd (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL)—are investing Rs30,000 crore to set up LPG infrastructure. This will include setting up of terminals to import LPG, laying pipelines, and building LPG bottling plants.

HPCL plans to spend Rs1,500 crore in setting up an LPG import facility and 7-10 bottling units in addition to building a new LPG bottling plant of 60 million tonnes per annum (mtpa).

Meanwhile, BPCL is building an LPG import terminal at West Bengal’s Haldia, for Rs800 crore. The company has acquired 35 acres for the purpose and plans to complete the project in three years.

IOCL is already constructing an LPG import facility of 600,000 tonnes per annum at Paradip, Odisha, for Rs690 crore. In January 2015, it decided to invest Rs5,300 crore for the facility and for laying pipelines.

Shares of the three oil marketing companies were trading flat on BSE, while the Sensex was trading at 36,175 points at 1.35pm.

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