Sources said some 3,000 employees of state-run fuel retailers managing the government’s flagship welfare scheme at the ground level from across the country are scheduled to congregate at Delhi’s Talkatora indoor satadium on Thursday for a day-long jamboree.
Officially, the function is being organsied to “felicitate” the dstrict nodal officers (DNOs) for their contribution to the success of Ujjwala. But the timing and style of the event underpin efforts at exploiting its potential for political outreach.
For the millions of existing and potential beneficiaries of Ujjwala, DNOs give the Central government a face. These executives are responsible for educating folks about Ujjwala’s benefit, enrolling potential beneficiaries, strengthening infrastructure and coordinating with local administration as well as elected representatives.
With such grassroots connect, in poll season DNOs can prove to be a formidable grouping for consolidating the goodwill flowing from the welfare scheme. Perhaps that explains the scale in which the event is being organised, though the DNOs have had their share of appreciation from time to time at scattered functions.
Ujjwala is one of the Narendra Modi government’s most formidable achievements, providing free LPG connection to women from over 6 crore poor households since its launch on May 1, 2016. The scheme has changed lives by freeing the womenfolk from smoke from traditional fuels.
On Tuesday, oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said told the Asia LPG Summit here the scheme has succeeded in giving access to clean cooking fuel to all vulnerable sections of society. He said the coverage of LPG has now reached close to 90%, rising from about 55% in 2014.
The scheme has pushed demand, making India the second-largest domestic LPG consumer after China for the third year in a row. As TOI had first reported on February 6, 2017, India attained this distinction in 2017 barely 10 months after Ujjwala was launched. LPG consumption is growing at 8.4% on expanded coverage. Total consumption stands at 22.5 mt (million tonne) and is expected to rise to 30.3 mt by 2025 and 40.6 mt by 2040