Subsidy needs to be given to rural poor on LPG, power: PM

Subsidy needs to be given to rural poor on LPG, power: PM

Amid the controversy over cap on subsidised LPG cylinders, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the government recognises that some subsidy has to be given for rural poor for cooking gas and electricity as part of its endeavour to give access to energy to all.

He talked about target subsidy "as best as possible" while stating that the government was planning to transfer subsidy amount directly to bank accounts of bonafide beneficiaries.

"We aim to provide every Indian household with clean cooking fuel. This is a huge task but it is not unattainable. It is something we must do on priority," Singh said inaugurating the International Seminar on Energy Access here.

He noted that most urban households cook with LPG and government has tried to introduce it in rural areas also.

"We recognize that the rural poor will need some subsidy to afford electricity and LPG. The issue is to target the subsidy as best as possible," Singh said.

He said the government had launched a pilot scheme in Mysore district of Karnataka where 27,000 deliveries of subsidized cylinders were made by delivery boys after successful biometric authentication of any family member present at home using the unique identification number.

"In the next phase it is planned to transfer the subsidy amount directly to the bank accounts of bona fide beneficiaries," Singh said.

His comments came against the backdrop of raging controversy over the government's decision to cap subsidised LPG cylinders at six per year.

"Around 12 per cent of around 190 million rural households use LPG to meet their cooking energy needs. Giving all the 240 million households in the country an entitlement of six LPG cylinders per year will require only around 25 million tonnes of LPG. This should be manageable for our country," Singh said.

At the same time, the Prime Minister said extending distribution network of LPG to all villages may take time.

"The Government of India aims to provide 24x7 electricity to all households in the country and affordable access to electricity in the next 5 years," Singh said.

He suggested that to reduce the burden on women, fuel wood plantations within a kilometer of all inhabitations could be set up.

On providing electricity to all households, Singh said under the ongoing Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Scheme, government planned to electrify all the 600,000 villages.

"As a result of our efforts, more than 100,000 villages have been provided with electricity connections in recent years," he said adding now only a few thousand villages in the country remain un-electrified.

One million households in India are now using decentralized solar energy to meet their lighting energy needs, he said adding that the government plans to install 20 Gigawatt of grind connected solar power by 2022.

"At present renewable power represents about 12 per cent of the total installed generating capacity in India... We hope to light up around 20 million rural households with solar home lighting by 2022," Singh said.

He said the government aimed at accelerating the overall deployment of renewable energy in India to achieve around 55 GigaWatt of renewable power by the year 2017.

Providing affordable energy access to the poorer sections of the globe is a challenge that will severely test the capability of the global community, especially the developing countries to forge a common and effective path forward, Singh said.

"It will require tremendous creativity and resourcefulness and also new ways of thinking and understanding. To this end, India is fully conscious of its responsibilities and our commitments," he said.

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