New Delhi: Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has come out in support of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana that Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik recently criticised, reported ANI on Friday. In a letter to Patnaik, Pradhan said, “Your statement (that PMUY is an unsuccessful scheme) appears to be devoid of facts and is misleading. Over 35 lakh connections were given under PMUY in Odisha so far.” (Also read: ‘Who’s Feeding Demon of Corruption,’ Asks PM Modi in Odisha)

Pradhan’s letter, copy of which was released to the media, came two days after Patnaik claimed at BJD’s foundation day function that Ujjwala scheme was a “failure” in Odisha as people were unable to go for refill due to the high cost of LPG cylinders.

Pradhan claimed the scheme had played a critical role in significantly enhancing the total number of LPG consumers from 19 lakh in May 2014 to 72.5 lakh in 2018 in the state.

The LPG coverage in Odisha has also been expanded from 22 per cent in 2014 to 69 per cent in 2018, he said adding with the recent decision of the Centre to expand PMUY to achieve universal coverage, Odisha would soon achieve LPG coverage over 90 per cent.

“In so far as the issue of purchase of refill by the beneficiaries, you may appreciate that adoption and sustained use of LPG is originally linked to behavioural change, cooking habit, economic status of the family,” Pradhan said.

“In this background, it is heartening to see that in Odisha, PMUY beneficiaries have consumed nearly 1.20 crore refills and per capital consumption is nearly 3.7 refills, which is in consonance with the national average consumption by beneficiaries,” the Union minister said.

Further, about 4.2 lakh consumers have taken 4 or more refills, he said, adding this clearly indicated a marked behavioural change among the common man in Odisha to make a transition towards clean and sustainable source of energy.

Pradhan said the Centre was also bearing subsidy on LPG refills to protect the consumers from price volatility. The subsidy is transferred directly into the bank account of the beneficiaries through the DBTL (PAHAL) eliminating leakages and role of the middleman.

In Odisha, the subsidy per cylinder is Rs 326.22 which fully protects the consumers from any price increase, he said. “The above stated facts establish the success of PMUY in the state and prove your statement vastly misleading that seems to be aimed at gaining undeserving attention and to divert common men concerns from your government’s failure to address the burning issues affecting the poor,” said Pradhan.

“I sincerely hope that the above stated fact shall assuage your concerns. I also expect that the state government extends wholehearted support in expanding the gas infrastructure to cater to the increasing demand of LPG in the state such as allotment of land for Khurda LPG bottling plant,” the Petroleum minister added.