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33% dip in LPG use in Jungle Mahal: Survey

Researchers link price rise as the reason behind beneficiaries of the Centre’s Ujjwala Yojana shifting to coal or firewood to cook food

Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 17.07.22, 12:31 AM
Handi Hembram cooks in a mud oven

Handi Hembram cooks in a mud oven Sourced by The Telegraph

A survey conducted by a team of researchers on the use of LPG in Jungle Mahal, the poorest region of Bengal, has revealed that the use of 14.2kg domestic cylinders has come down by over 33 per cent in the past 12 months, during which its price rose by around Rs 250 or 30 per cent.

The researchers have also found that most of the beneficiaries of the Centre’s Ujjwala Yojana shifted to coal or firewood to cook food because of the steady northward movement in LPG prices.


“We are conducting this study from 2020. We found a drop in use of LPG cylinders by 50 per cent between 2020 and 2021 during our field survey. Last year, the decline was around 33 per cent,” said Pravat Kumar Shit, who is heading the research project. Shit is an assistant professor of geography at Raja N.L. Khan Women’s College in Midnapore.

The survey was part of the research project of Soumen Bisui, a PhD scholar associated with Shit. The project is titled “Forest dynamic and ecosystem services for sustainable rural livelihoods study from the part of Jungle Mahal districts”.

The research findings are based on field surveys conducted among 3,510 households spread across 245 villages under six development blocks in Jhargram and West Midnapore, two of the four Jungle Mahal districts of Bengal. The other two Jungle Mahal districts are Purulia and Bankura.

On Friday, a homemaker from Santiniketan raised the regular price hikes before junior petroleum minister Rameswar Teli and urged him to take steps to reduce the price for the benefit of common people.

Purnima Hazra, a BJP supporter, told Teli that regular hikes in the price of a gas cylinders had prompted a large number of women to stop using LPG though they had received free connections under the Ujjwala Yojana, which was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016.

The researchers said during their survey they interacted with women who took connections under the Ujjawala Yojna and most of them cited the high price of a cylinder as the main reason for not using LPG.

“We found a large number of women shifting to firewood and coal.… One of the respondents said she has an LPG cylinder but she never used it and kept it at one corner of her home to only use it in case of an emergency. She, however, could not explain the nature of an emergency that would prompt her to use the cylinder as a fuel,” said one of the researchers.

The survey has mentioned the example of Handi Hembram, a 51-year-old woman from Benasuli village of West Midnapore’s Nayagram who was provided an LPG connection two years ago. “I don’t use the gas as I can’t buy a new one (cylinder). We are poor people and it is impossible for us to purchase a cylinder by spending Rs 1,000. So, I started using my a mud oven again,” she said.

The members of the survey team said that for the sake of continuity they repeatedly went back to the same set of 3,510 households.

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