“Three free LPG cylinders to all the Goans” – this was one of many Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) poll promises in February 2022. The party won the elections for the third consecutive time to form a stable government and two years down the line, the promise remains unfulfilled with every possibility the scheme will clandestinely be scrapped.
Reliable government sources have confirmed to The Goan that the Finance Department has raised queries on the whopping expenditure, as a result of which the scheme -- eventually modified in a ‘cost-cutting’ bid -- is yet to see the light of day.
The proposal has been nearly abandoned. The government declared a financial strain of Rs 120 crore approx on the State exchequer, a year after the Pramod Sawant-cabinet approved the proposal in March 2022.
Sources revealed that the Finance Department had opined to the government that since Rs 1,500 monthly assistance is being provided to each of its Griha Aadhar beneficiaries, spending on each family for LPG cylinders – each of which would then cost over Rs 1,100 – meant the government had to spend a massive amount annually that would ultimately put the system under tremendous financial burden.
“The Rural Development Agency had sent a proposal to the government based on the poll promise. It was returned with a remark to re-draft the scheme. The RDA then modified the scheme to allow only the BPL (Below Poverty Line) cardholders to take the benefit. The criteria were also listed out but the Finance Department raised queries on the expenditure because of which the file has not moved ahead,” a Secretariat official revealed to The Goan.
In a quick flashback, the BJP’s February 2022 poll manifesto promised three free cooking gas cylinders per year to each household to alleviate the burden on homemakers. CM Sawant, in the 2022-23 Budget, also announced the Gramin Urja Yojana, to implement the proposal with a provision of Rs 40 crore.
But there was a U-turn when the government claimed the scheme would cover only ‘low-income group’ – an announcement that attracted criticism from the opposition parties and the general public.
Unfazed by this response, the proposal was revised to benefit only BPL cardholders, and in December 2022, the government decided to drop the scheme.
Sawant had admitted that the scheme was delayed stating that it would cover those having ‘Antyodaya’ ration cards. The Congress and Goa Forward Party picked the opportunity to rap the government over the “BJP's gimmicks” while also raising the matter in the subsequent assembly sessions.