Samvaad Budget 2023: Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri today hinted at the Centre considering to bring more people in the ‘needy’ category who require subsidy on LPG cylinders.
Replying to questions at India TV budget 2023 conclave, Puri said: “Already we are giving Rs 200 subsidy per cylinder to economically poor sections through DBT (direct benefit transfer). If there are other sections who are needy, that is something that we are open to. But, the subsidy has to be degressive.”
Puri rejected allegations that Ujjwala scheme under which 9.6 crore connections have been given to poor households, has failed, because most of the poor families have stopped buying new cylinders due to high prices. The minister said, “This allegation is incorrect. The fact is, under the Ujjwala scheme, an average poor family is purchasing 3.9 cylinders a year, compared to the normal 4 cylinders for an average family of four.”
Describing green hydrogen as the “fuel of the future”, Puri said, “in order to reduce fuel imports, work is going on three fronts: one, bio-fuel, two, denatured ethyl alcohol and three, green hydrogen. During UPA government, bio-fuel blending ethanol target was fixed at 5 per cent, but in 2014, Prime Minister Modi fixed two major targets – 10 per cent blending by end-November 2022, and 20 per cent blending target by 2030. We achieved our first target five months ahead of time, and now the blending is at 10.7 per cent. We have re-fixed our target for 20 per cent blending by 2025, instead of 2030.”
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Puri said, “ an MOU was signed yesterday by a foreign company (John Cockerill) which has 33 per cent electrolyzer manufacturing capacity in the global market. This company in collaboration is jointly building a Hydrogen electrolyzer gigafctory with a targeted annual capacity of 2 gigawatts. This will accelerate India’s transition to hydrogen energy.”
The Petroleum Minister said, India’s fuel consumption average is three times the world’s average fuel consumption because of the expanding economy. We consume five million barrels of fuel daily and six crore people go to petrol pumps every day.
Puri said, while India has become the fifth largest economy and its per capita income has doubled from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1,97,000, we aim to become the world’s second-largest economy by 2040. By 2040, we aim to become a $26 to 27 trillion economy.
He agreed that inflation was on the rise, but petrol and diesel prices have not been raised since last one year. He hit out at Rahul Gandhi, saying the youth leader who has recently completed his exercise, had questioned why India was going on for domestic manufacture of vaccines during the Covid pandemic. “We provided more than 220 crore vaccines to our people during the pandemic. Had we relied on imported vaccines, the costs would have soared high”, he said.
Puri said, the Union Budget presented on Wednesday clearly underlines Modi’s model of “good governance is also good politics”, and has avoided giving freebies (revdi). “I see this as the bridge budget towards India becoming a developed nation”, he said.