[Editorial Notes] Cooking with gas, not wood

Household air pollution (HAP) - predominantly from cooking fuel is a major public health hazard and one of the leading causes of respiratory illness and deaths.
August 30, 2019

Content

  • Introduction
  • Why there is a preference for Chulha?
  • Why Chulha is not a good option to cook?
  • What can policymakers do to achieve exclusive use of clean fuels in rural India?
  • What broader steps can be taken for clean fuel use in rural India?
  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
  • Way Ahead
  • Portability option for transfer of LPG scheme
  • Conclusion

Cooking with gas, not wood

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Introduction

More than 90 % of the rural population and 31 % of the urban population in India still rely primarily on solid fuels as a domestic source of energy. 

solid-fuels

Why there is a preference for Chulha?

A study conducted on solid fuel use between August to December 2018 shows that people having LPG gas connections are still using Chulha, an earthen or brick stove for cooking.

chulha

  • People believe that food cooked on a chulha is healthier and tastier whereas, Rotis cooked on gas cause indigestion.
  • People considered that cooking with solid fuels is healthy for the person cooking too: fumes purified the eyes because they caused tears, and in blowing into a traditional stove, a woman did kasrat (exercise).
  • People are not able to afford the refill and the cylinders lie empty for days or weeks.
  • A survey conducted in states like Bihar, MP, Rajasthan and UP, finds that rich people are less likely to use Chulha for cooking but not by much percentage. More than 60% of rich households cooked food on Chulha on one day before the study.

Why Chulha is not a good option to cook?

  • It causes Household air pollution.
  • Household air pollution (HAP) – predominantly from cooking fuel is a major public health hazard and one of the leading causes of respiratory illness and deaths.
  • Range of health-damaging pollutants such as fine particles, carbon monoxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), benzene, butadiene, formaldehyde, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and several other chemicals are present in HAP.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.5 % of the total burden of disease in India country has been attributable to HAP.
  • The solid fuel use was responsible for 20 % of deaths among children below 5 years of age.

What can policymakers do to achieve exclusive use of clean fuels in rural India?

  • The three strategies could work:
  1. Communicating the harms of solid fuels and the benefits of cleaner fuels to people
  2. Reducing the cost of LPG cylinder refills in rural areas.
  3. Promoting gender equality within households, particularly in cooking and related tasks.

What broader steps can be taken for clean fuel use in rural India?

  • A large anti-tobacco style campaign communicating that solid fuels harm respiratory health may change the wrong beliefs of people regarding chulhas.
  • Advertisements that food cooked on gas can be as tasty and healthy as food cooked on a chulha would be helpful.
  • To build on the targeting experience of the National Food Security Act. If priority households could become eligible for higher subsidies in a revamped LPG pricing regime, and Antyodaya households could become eligible for LPG cylinders free of cost, exclusive LPG use would likely be higher.
  • Advertisements showing that gas is so good that even men can cook with it will challenge both misinformation on LPG and gender inequalities in household tasks.

ITs Input

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

pradhan-mantri-ujjwala-yojana-

  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was launched by Prime Minister of India in May 2016.
  • Under this scheme, 5 crore LPG connections will be provided to Below poverty line (BPL) families over a period of three years.
  • Initially, the beneficiaries under PMUY were identified either from Socio-Economic Caste Census-2011 or from seven other identified categories. Subsequently, Government has extended the benefit to all left out poor families under PMUY subject to fulfilment of terms & conditions.
  • Eligible households will receive a support of Rs. 1,600 and will be in the name of the female head of the entire household.
  • Money that has been saved due to the ‘Give-it-up’ subsidy campaign will be used for this scheme.

Objectives of PMUY:

  • Empowering women and protecting their health.
  • Abate health issues that result from using fossil fuels
  • Minimize fatalities which occur due to unclean fuels used for cooking
  • Controlling respiratory issues that occur due to indoor pollution as a result of using fossil fuel
  • Preventing the degradation of purity of environment compromised by the usage of unclean cooking fuel.

Who are eligible?

  • Only adult women with Below Poverty Line are eligible.

Why consider LPG over other fuels?

  • LPG is an energy-rich fuel source with a higher calorific value than other commonly used fuels which means that an LPG flame burns hotter, an advantage that can translate into higher efficiency.
  • It is a fuel that is available in even the remotest of areas providing a further impetus to regional development.
  • It is a clean-burning fuel that is low carbon, emits virtually no black carbon and does not spills.
  • LPG can be accessible to everyone everywhere without major infrastructure investment.

Way Ahead:

  • PMUY is likely to result in an additional employment of around 1 Lakh and provide the business opportunity of at least Rs. 10,000 Cr. over the next 3 Years to the Indian Industry.
  • Launch of this scheme will also provide a great boost to the ‘Make in India’campaign as all the manufacturers of cylinders, gas stoves, regulators, and gas hose are domestic.

Portability option for transfer of LPG scheme:

LPG

  • Portability option for transfer of LPG connection was launched across the country in 2013.
  • Subsequently, the process of online transfer of connection within the same market was made fully automatic for the transfers within the same Oil Marketing Company (OMC).
  • Through this initiative, the consumer is empowered to choose his/her destination distributor online without the intervention of his parent distributor.
  • In this process, the Transfer Subscription Voucher (TSV) is delivered at customer premises by the destination distributor and it does away for the consumer to physically approach both the distributors with a transfer request.

Conclusion

Using cleaner fuels such as LPG is essential to reduce rural air pollution and improve health. Therefore, we all including government, academia and NGOs should come together to transform the rural India where every household should use clean fuels.

 

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