In a bid to reduce poverty Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Rs. 8000 cr. scheme to provide 5 crore free LPG connections to poor families and attacked UPA-led previous government for just pay lip service to it.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi distributes the free LPG connections to the beneficiaries, under PM Ujjwala Yojana in Ballia on Sunday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi distributes the free LPG connections to the beneficiaries, under PM Ujjwala Yojana in Ballia on Sunday.

On the labour’s day today, PM Modi listed out the initiatives calling himself Shramik No.1 (Worker No.1) taken by his government for the welfare of labourers. Modi criticized previous government with that for doing not even little for poor. “Policies made by previous governments were not keeping in mind the welfare of poor but only ballot boxes,” he said.

“We are working to fight poverty,” he said, adding that under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, free LPG connections will be provided in name of women members of BPL households.

Modi said, “Poverty can be eradicated only if poor are empowered, given resources and opportunities as well as education, jobs, houses, drinking water and electricity.”

Modi harped on attacking previous government asking questions on the policies pursued by them for reducing poverty.

In the first year, 1.5 crore such connections will be released and the target of 5 crore will be completed in three years, he said, comparing it to the just 13 crore LPG connections provided in 60 years of independence. “In my first speech in Central Hall of Parliament after BJP government came to power (in 2014), I had said my government is dedicated to poor.

“Whatever this government does will be for the benefit of the poor and for the welfare of poor,” he said as he listed out various labour-friendly initiatives, including raising minimum pension to Rs 1,000 and introduction of labour identification number (LIN).

Also, the maximum wage that entitles bonus to workers has been raised to Rs 21,000 from Rs 10,000 per month previously, while the bonus limit too has been doubled to Rs 7,000. Provident fund (PF) portability has been provided to help utilise the Rs 27,000 crore of retirement benefits lying unused because of workers changing jobs or cities.

Modi launched a ‘Give it up’ campaign in March 27, 2015 urging well-off people to give up the right of LPG subsidy so that the government can give it to needy. In the span of year, around 1 crore people have given it up.

Consumers are currently entitled to 12 cylinders of 14.2 kg each or 34 bottles of 5 kg each in a year at subsidised rates. A subsidised 14.2-kg cylinder is currently available at Rs 419.15 per bottle in Delhi while the 5-kg pack costs Rs 155. Market-priced LPG is available at Rs 509.50 per 14.2-kg cylinder. Giving up subsidised LPG will help cut the government’s subsidy bill, which was at Rs 30,000 crore for the fuel last fiscal. Nearly Rs 5,000 crore of subsidies saved through the campaign is being used to provide LPG connection to the poor.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had in his Budget for 2016-17 provided Rs 2,000 crore to provide deposit free LPG connections to 1.5 crore women belonging to BPL families. Further, the Budget announced that the scheme will be continued for two more years to cover 5 crore households.

Modi said he had last year pledged to electrify 18,000 villages where even an electricity pole has not reached so far, in next 1,000 days.