By Adithya Kumar
The villages of Dorli and Lonsavli in Wardha district still don’t have cooking gas connections even after the Prime Minister announced the Ujwal Bharat Gas Yojana under which poor families can get a free gas connection.
Most households still use wood fired stoves to do their cooking. The wood stove comes with its own set of problems. The smoke causes respiratory problems not only to the person using it but to the ones around as well.
According to World Health Organization reports an estimated five lakh deaths a year in India are caused by unclean cooking fuels. Studies revealed that having an open wood fire in the kitchen is almost as poisonous as having 400 cigarettes in an hour.
The free gas scheme was launched to improve the health of the people and to reduce pollution in the environment too. The person applying for the connection should be a woman above 18 years of age, with a valid Below Poverty Line card and her name must tally with those on the Socio Economic and Caste Census list. The woman can fill up a form at her local gas agency and avail herself of the benefits.
“There are only farm laborers here. The village is too small. Not everyone can afford to use gas cylinders,” said Sumit Jharonde, a farm laborer.
Dorli mostly has farm laborers and most of them cannot afford a gas connection. The ones who have a connection, use it very sparingly, for three months or more along with the wood stoves.
Not many villagers were aware of the scheme.
Another problem is the villagers in Dorli do not have BPL cards to avail the scheme. In the past, due to the Aadhaar Card drive, a lot of villagers have Aadhaar cards but lack BPL cards. The common reason is the lack of valid documents pertaining to land or payment of electricity bills.
“When I asked the authorities at the Waifad gas agency, they said that my name was not on the list so why would we consider you ?”, says Nanda Gundani, a farm laborer there.
There are some villagers like Dilip Krishnaji Gaike, who manage to get their cylinders. Gaike has taken his connection under a friend’s name but he has to travel 15 kilometres to Wardha to get his cylinder.
Lonsavli, adjoining Dorli, is much better off. The villagers buy cylinders and they receive a subsidy as well. Nearly 50 per cent of the households have connections while the rest have applied. “They are waiting for their connections to come”, says Priyanka Wadhe, a 21 year old student residing in Lonsavli.
Some villagers complain the new gas agency in Waifad which is three km away is inefficient.
Vanitha Gude, another resident, has a BPL number but she was told that her name was not on the census data list.
“The Waifad gas agency is very tardy and so I do not get my connection from them,” said Rama Sureshchand Jain, a grocery shop owner in Lonsavli.