INDOOR AIR POLLUTION
What’s in news?
In UP-Bihar, 85% of Ujjwala beneficiaries still use earthen stoves says the study led by Research Institute for Compassionate Economics (RICE).
- About 85 per cent of Ujjwala beneficiaries in rural Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan still use earthen stoves (chulhas) for cooking, due to financial reasons as well as gender inequalities.
- The indoor air pollution due to these earthen stoves can lead to infant deaths and harm child development, heart and lung diseases among adults, especially the women, cooking on these earthen stoves.
- The survey, conducted in late 2018, covered a random sample of 1,550 households in 11 districts of the four States.
- The RICE study shows that there has been a substantial increase in LPG ownership in all 4 states due to the Ujjwala scheme. Now 76 per cent of households have an LPG connection.
Key findings of the study:
- The study reveals, more than 98 per cent of these households also own an earthen stove. Surveyors found;
- 27% of households exclusively used the gas stove.
- 37% used both the earthen stoves and the gas stove.
- 36% made everything on the earthen stoves.
- According to study this trend is more acute among those who received an LPG connection from the government because Ujjwala beneficiaries are poorer than households who got LPG on their own. Refilling the cylinder is a greater fraction of their monthly consumption.
- More than 86% felt that cooking on the earthen stoves was better for the health of those eating reflecting ignorance of the fact that ambient air pollution is harmful even to those who are not cooking the food. A common belief was that eating food cooked on gas causes gas in the stomach.
- 70% of households do not spend anything on solid fuels, meaning that the relative cost of an LPG cylinder refill, even if subsidised, is far higher. Women are more likely to make dung cakes, and while men are more likely to cut wood, women are often the ones collecting and carrying it.
- The scheme was launched in 2016 under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas with an intention to reduce health hazards of indoor pollution by providing free LPG connections to Women from BPLHouseholds.
- The scheme was targeted to reach 5Cr connection within the deadline of March 31, 2019. As it has reached, the target was raised to 8Cr. To achieve this new target, the deadline was texted till March 2020.
- The scheme provides free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs. 1600/- per connection to an adult woman member of all poor families. (Earlier only BPL family identified through Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data were eligible)
- With the expansion of the PMUY scheme, all the poor households can avail the benefit from PMUY and it will not be mandatory to be part of the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) list or the seven identified categories under the programme to be eligible for the scheme (, beneficiaries of Antyoday Anna Yojana (AAY), PMAY (Gramin), forest dwellers, most backward classes (MBC), Tea and Ex-Tea Garden Tribes)
- Eligible households will be identified in consultation with state governments and Union territories.
- The scheme will be implemented by 2020. (Older target was to be achieved by 2019).
- Consumers will have the option to purchase gas stove and refills on EMI.
- It seeks to empower women and protect their health by shifting them from traditional cooking based on unclean cooking fuels or fossil fuels to clean cooking gas.
- Because burning wood/coal is leading to rising pulmonary, cataract and heart diseases
- According to health experts, the smoke released in the burning process contains hazardous gases like carbon monoxide, particulate matter, etc. Unclean cooking fuels are the main source of indoor air pollution that causes non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer
- Generally, poor women are victims of these toxic gases. They have no alternative and thus they are forced to use them
Therefore, awareness campaign among Ujjwala Yojna beneficiaries is necessary to change their behaviour.