LPG distributors seek awareness under Ujjawala Yojana, threaten stir

New Delhi: The Federation of LPG Distributors on Tuesday threatened to go on indefinite strike across the country from December 15 if the central government did not address its concerns about safety in distribution of gas connections to the poor under Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana (PMUY).

Addressing a press conference here, office-bearers of the federation claimed that they were being booked by police if accidents take place “due to lack of awareness among the users”.

He said most of the beneficiaries under the scheme are illiterate.

Pawan Soni, general secretary of the federation, said that some of the PMUY beneficiaries do not know how to operate and handle gas connection and it was the main reason behind accidents.

“After six members of a family in Saharanpur were killed in a fire caused by LPG leakage few weeks ago, police charged the local distributor with culpable homicide. It was apparent that the accident happened due to carelessness or negligence of the family members. Yet, the distributor was implicated,” Soni alleged.

Soni also claimed that lack of space and ventilation in the shanties and mud houses makes use of LPG connection “unsuitable.”

PMUY is a National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s ambitious scheme that envisages replacement of unclean, pollution-causing cooking fuel being used in the rural areas with green and clean LPG at cheaper cost.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in May this year launched this scheme from Ballia in Uttar Pradesh with an aim of providing gas connection to five crore poor families. About 80 lakh families have been given gas connections under this scheme so far.

P.V. Rao, president of the federation, said government should create awareness among the users to check such accidents in future.

“There are no guidelines or safety plans under this scheme, which puts lives of the poor in danger. The beneficiaries should be given awareness lectures by the government. If the government does not address our concerns, we will protest, intensifying it in phases,” Rao said.

The federation officials claimed that the government has not responded to any of their complaints in last six months. They also demanded fool-proof seal system for cylinders so that they do not have to weigh cylinders at the time of delivery.

“Initially, we will tie black ribbons from November 5, then stop picking up cylinders from gas plants (depots). Subsequently, we will hold one-day flash strike on December 1. If the government fails to take corrective action by then, we will go on indefinite strike from December 15,” Rao said, adding that their federation was the largest association of the LPG distributors in the country.

He said that smaller five-kg cylinders should be given to PMUY beneficiaries instead of the big cylinders which store 14.2 kg LPG. Rao said big cylinders “cannot be used conveniently” in shanties and small houses.