New Delhi: The widespread use of solid fuels such as wood and dung for cooking pollutes households and adds to India’s disease burden. To tackle this, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was launched in May 2016 to promote clean cooking by providing poor women with free LPG connections.
But even as the number of LPG connections has increased, LPG usage hasn’t, according to a new research paper by Ashish Gupta and others.
The study is based on a survey of 1,216 households between 2014 and 2018 in villages across Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The survey revealed that 98% of households had an LPG connection but also used a chulha (an earthen stove that uses solid fuel).
Only 27% of households reported exclusively using LPG to cook all food items, while 36% cooked everything on the chulha, even if they had LPG access.
Uttar Pradesh had the highest proportion of households exclusively using cooking gas and Rajasthan had the lowest.
The authors found several reasons for the low use of cooking gas. Ujjwala beneficiaries are poorer than households who purchase LPG in the open market and hence find the cost of refilling cooking gas cylinders prohibitively high.
The authors also highlight behavioural challenges. Many respondents believed that food cooked on a chulha might be healthier for family members, despite being inconvenient for the women who do the cooking. The study supports other survey data on rural India’s limited LPG usage and underlines the challenge of getting households to consistently use clean cooking fuel.
READ | Persistence of solid fuel use despite increases in LPG ownership: New survey evidence from rural north India