Toronto, July 16 (IANS) The beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) in India consume on an average 2.3 LPG cylinders of 14.2 kg annually which is about half of what a rural consumer consumes on an average, new research has found.
The research, published in the journal Nature Energy, suggests that while the PMUY has increased adoption of LPG among rural, poor populations, getting people to use LPG regularly is however a far more difficult task.
Rural families on an average use 4.7 cylinders of 14.2 kg LPG annually, which is about half of what would be required by an average family in India to cook exclusively with LPG, the findings showed.
The researchers also found that the programme which was launched in 2016 has fast-tracked LPG consumer enrolments by about 16 months in the region assessed.
“Our work reaffirms that there is a distinct difference between the adoption of a new technology and its sustained use,” said lead author of the study Abhishek Kar, a doctoral candidate at the University of British Columbia in Canada.
“The PMUY was specifically designed to promote adoption, and based on that metric, this programme is an unparalleled success, with near universal LPG access expected within the next couple of years,” said Kar who started the work as part of the Young Scientist Summer Programme (YSSP) at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria.
“However, if we focus on the ultimate goal of smokeless kitchens, PMUY must be modified to explicitly incentivize regular LPG use,” Kar added.
In their study, the researchers endeavoured to understand how the launch of the programme has altered both the adoption and use of LPG.
They employed an LPG sales dataset from Koppal district in Karnataka to carry out their analysis.
As part of this exercise, the researchers compared PMUY customers’ use of LPG with that of other rural peers, rather than to urban or average national consumers’ use of the fuel.
As of Tuesday, over 7.4 crore connections have been released under PMUY.
The team analysed up to five years of LPG purchase data for general rural customers since they adopted LPG and found no discernable changes in LPG consumption with experience or time for these users.
In their first three years as customers, roughly 75 per cent of consumers’ LPG cylinder purchases either stayed the same or fluctuated by one to two cylinders.
The analysis also indicates that consumers are sensitive to changes in LPG prices and that there is significant seasonal variation in purchases of LPG over a year.
Refill rates in summer when agricultural activity is limited, are for instance about 10 per cent lower than rates during cropping and harvest seasons when people are busy with agricultural work.
“Our study suggests some obvious mid-course corrections to the programme to encourage regular use of LPG. This includes the use of seasonal vouchers during low cash flow periods for poor rural agricultural households, and behavioural nudges and stronger information and education campaigns,” said Kar.