• 14/09/2002

In the context of present-day India, liquefied petroleum gas (lpg) is by far the most effective and least polluting of all the commonly-used cooking fuels. Although electricity has been proven better, it continues to have a limited presence in Indian households. The traditional curve in upward mobility, therefore, is from wood to kerosene and then to lpg.

Now consider this: how likely is it that rural women (for it is the women who are associated with cooking activities in rural areas) will use highly expensive lpg for their cooking when there are cheaper alternatives available? Besides, cost and profit considerations will keep distributors from willingly reaching out to remote areas.

At present, there is a subsidy available on kerosene, which more often than not, ends up being used as an adulterant in diesel and petrol, directly affecting pollution levels, especially in cities. Now, if this subsidy were transferred to lpg, a majority of Indian women would have a better chance at access to cleaner fuel and a more conducive cooking environment. Cylinders with a capacity of five litres could be used, and the initial investment could be offset by a subsidy. This could be a boon to women in slums as well, providing a cleaner and safer cooking medium, not to mention improved air quality in towns and cities.

It is equally important to discuss here that rural areas have, over the years, seen a number of significant efforts to promote viable alternatives

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