Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicates to the Nation and lays the foundation stone of key infrastructure projects in West Bengal, at Haldia on Sunday. (ANI Photo)
NEW DELHI: LPG coverage in West Bengal has more than doubled from 41% to 99% in the last six years and the state is getting connected to the country’s gas pipeline network as a result of the BJP-led NDA government’s focus on developing the eastern region, prime minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday.
“Ninety lakh free LPG connections were given to women in West Bengal, which include more than 36 lakh women belonging to the SC/ST (Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe) category,” Modi told a public gathering at Haldia, the second port city in the state 118 km from Kolkata, after flagging off a clutch of projects on Sunday.
The PM was referring to his government’s flagship social welfare and energy justice scheme, ‘Ujjwala’. LPG connections are provided free of cost to poor households under this scheme. Eight crore households have been covered so far and the Budget 2021 has proposed to expand it by another crore households. Launched in May 2016, the scheme’s objective is to improve women’s health by removing harmful indoor pollution caused by cooking fuels such as cowdung cake and firewood.
The PM laid the foundation stone of a new unit at IndianOil’s Haldia refinery and dedicated to the nation GAIL’s 348-km Dobhi–Durgapur gas pipeline section of the Pradhan Mantri Urja, Bharat Petroleum’s LPG import terminal as well as a four-lane flyover at Ranichak on NH 41.
Pointing out that scarcity of gas was leading to the closure of industry in the region, Modi said the day was special for the state and the entire region in terms of AatmNirbharta (self-reliance) of connectivity and availability of clean fuel. “In order to remedy this (gas shortage), a decision was taken to connect eastern India with the eastern and western ports. The Dobhi-Durgapur pipeline will directly benefit not only West Bengal but also 10 districts of Bihar and Jharkhand.”
Urja Ganga will also provide clean piped LPG to the kitchens and enable clean CNG vehicles, Modi said. Sindri and Durgapur Fertilizer factories will get continuous gas supply. He asked GAIL and the state government to quickly complete the Durgapur-Haldia section of the Jagdishpur-Haldia and Bokaro-Dhamra pipeline.
As the Ujjawala scheme has resulted in much higher coverage and demand for LPG in the region, work is on for improving LPG infrastructure, he said, listing work on rail, road, airport, ports and waterways projects to improve the quality of life and business in the eastern region. “The four projects (he launched today) will improve both ease of living and ease of doing business in the region. These projects will also help Haldia to grow into a major hub of export-import.”
“This year’s Budget has proposed one crore more free gas connections under the Ujjwala scheme. LPG import terminal of Haldia will play a big role in meeting the high demand as it will serve crores of families in West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Northeast as more than two crore people will get gas from here out of which one crore will be beneficiaries of Ujjwala scheme,” the PM said.
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Desley Sherwin, senior associate at Roythornes.