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How deprivation of cooking gas is resulting in felling of more trees in Manipur's border villages

The government's initiative to provide LPG connections to economically weaker sections under the Ujjwala Yojana is proven futile in interior villages of Manipur.

ByDonald Sairem

Updated 8 Jul 2022, 6:33 pm

(PHOTO: IFP)
(PHOTO: IFP)

 

Despite the clarion call from various quarters for conservation of forests and environment amid global warming and climate change taking place across the globe, hundreds of people in Manipur’s border villages are compelled to cut down trees for firewood. Many of them continue to use firewood as they are being deprived of cooking gas connections.

Efforts of the government to provide LPG connections to the economically weaker sections of the people under the Ujjwala Yojana, and its expansion is proven futile in interior villages of the state. 

Like many people in Tusom Chiristian village and its neighbouring Tusom Khullen and New Tusom village in Ukhrul district, one H Joycy, who is a committee member of the Shanao Long of Tusom Christian Village, prefer cooking with firewood though she has a LPG filled cylinder, which she said was procured from the black market (unauthorised seller/ distributor) in Ukhrul.

“I use the LPG cylinder only for cooking during emergencies when it will be difficult to kindle the firewood,” she said.

She has to spend around Rs 2,500 to purchase a LPG filled cylinder and wants it to last long.

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The villages are located in Manipur’s border around 180 km away from the state capital, Imphal, and 95 km away from district headquarters, Ukhrul town.

With the nearest LPG agencies or distributors being located in the district headquarters, those who are travelling with gas cylinders have to pay Rs 200-300 in addition to the travel fare of Rs 800-900 from Tusom to Ukhrul.

The woman further said that she had applied for availing gas connections under the Ujjwala Yojana several times, but her application was rejected without citing proper reason. 

It may be mentioned that several categories of economically weaker sections, including SC, ST, PMAY (Gramin) beneficiaries, AAY beneficiaries, forest dwellers, Most Backward Classes, Tea and ex-Tea Garden tribes, island/river island dwellers among others have been added to the list of eligible beneficiaries of Ujjwala Yojana.

She said that a family generally uses around three truck loads of firewood in a year. Just awareness and instructions are not enough to protect forests. Therefore, the call for protecting forests must be upheld with necessary facilities, including provision of gas connection, she added. 

Meanwhile, Tusom Christian village headman Shimthar Horam, whose family also uses firewood for cooking, said that only few of the households in the three Tusom villages use cooking gas. Most prefer to use firewood not only for cooking but also to keep themselves warm during the cold months.

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He further contended that the government’s innovative outreach programmes like Go to Hills and Go to Village are not being organised in the interior villages. The villagers are yet to benefit from such government welfare programmes.

“The elected representatives and government officials should witness for themselves the hardships of the villagers and ensure that the benefits and services of doorstep delivery of various schemes reach the people,” he said.

The village headman also drew the attention of the state government to initiate right steps to check rampant felling of trees in the forest to prevent deforestation.

Like in the Tusom border villages, not only the poor, but many people living in remote villages in the hill districts of the state struggle to purchase LPG due to its accessibility problem. The cooking gas is also sold at higher prices (black market) than the rates in the valley urban areas.

 

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First published:6 Jul 2022, 3:54 pm

Tags:

UkhrulLPGforest conservationfuelTusomcooking gas

Donald Sairem

Donald Sairem

IFP Reporter, IMPHAL, Manipur

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