By Adv. Apurva Chodanker
LPG cooking cylinder was introduced with a viewpoint of women cooking in the kitchen with twigs and blowing wood blogs or sticks which were harmful to the health of the women, looks like it is going to consume the life of the consumers with the hike in the price touching the sky. Since the pandemic which reached India in march 2020 life of the commoner has become difficult in a way that cannot be put down in words. We have overcome many challenges over the past 2 years and with one pandemic fight coming to an end, the world had to pray for peace in the ongoing war between Russia – and Ukraine.
LPG stands for Liquefied Petroleum Gas that was introduced by the Indian oil in the year 1965 and the very first connection was given to its consumer on 22nd October 1965 in Kolkata. As a child, I still remember a new LPG cylinder connection was being availed on the local petrol pump where interested consumers were given a gas cylinder after duly submitting the required documents. It is worth mentioning here that India is the largest LPG consumer in the world.
It is evident due to the Russia – Ukraine war the oil marketing companies have hiked the prices of the gas cylinders by Rs.50 per 14.2 kg cylinder since October 2022. LPG are rising since November 2020 and currently, in Delhi, the cost of cooking gas cylinders is about Rs.949. Putting more burden on the consumers in May 2020 the government had stopped the LPG cylinder subsidies to most of its consumers due to inland freight costs (delivery charges from one part of the country to another).
Analysts are of the opinion that though there is an increase, Oil Marketing Companies (OMC’s) are selling LPG are at a loss, in future also we will see the rates double. In September 2016 (approx.), the gas rates were Rs.466.5, since then the cost has increased tremendously. Consumers say that every month the person who delivers the gas cylinder to the doorstep, hands over the bill with different rates every month by an increase of Rs. 40- 50 every time a cooking gas cylinder is booked. The most affected consumer category is the middle class and the poor people. You must then wonder about the labor class/people! The ground reality is that these laborers do not have any permanent home as such they keep on migrating as and where there is work available, so they hardly have any gas cylinders and they mostly use the stove or they use the traditional way of cooking by putting or laying 2-3 stones making a small “chulla”.
If the cost of the LPG cooking cylinders keeps on rising the major impact will be on the middle-class consumers. The question that arises here is what are the other alternatives to LPG? How is one supposed to cook their food for tiffin or lunch? How will this generation survive without gas Cylinders? And many such questions.
Some of the alternatives to LPG are biogas, electrical stove or induction, and PNG. Coming to biogas, in deep remote villages where there is no access to modern techniques of cooking, they rely on biogas. People who have cattle or buffalo and have cow sheds use animal waste or cow dung to create biogas. The animal waste is put in a big pit where it does not come in contact with oxygen, it is left to ferment and it is further broken down by microorganisms.
Electrical stoves or induction are just like normal stoves in shape but with an electrical plate on top. Its functioning is dependent on electricity. These electrical stoves were introduced as a replacement for the solid stove i.e. stoves that use wood or coal.
PNG stands for Piped Natural Gas. This PNG is used for domestic, commercial, and industrial use. It is said that PNG is eco-friendly an eco-friendly fuel.
I am of the opinion, that in a country like India PNG may not be successful as there is always digging happening on roadsides and if by mistake the PNG pipeline is busted it will cost the life of common men.
Even if the above-mentioned alternatives are expensive for some women working and cooking in the kitchen, they would prefer the traditional way of using the solid stove. Our ancestors were way ahead of us because they never destroyed the forest, even for that matter when we say that the wood used in cooking was never cut down from big trees. They used to use the twigs or the branches of those trees that were pruned so that the fruit-bearing trees could have new branches and new flowers. They also knew about types of wood that could burn for a longer period and that could turn into coal.
There are also talks and news items on wind energy, solar energy, and water energy. The cost of this energy generation is too expensive. India being a developing country is heavily dependent on fuel from other countries. Even though there are people who have solar panels set up in their houses, it is heavily dependent on the sun, and the problem is faced during the rainy season. The estimated cost of a wind turbine is approx. 1 crore. (Industrial use). There is something called as small wind turbines for residential use depending on the size of the generation of electricity. Wind energy is used for sailing, generating electricity, pumping water, surfing etc.
I would like to conclude by saying that things will happen when they are to happen. It is our responsibility to act in a prudent way and use natural resources carefully. The intellectual citizen has to take the responsibility of leading the society to the light where we will collectively come together for alternative solutions. As already discussed above the reasons for the hike in LPG cooking cylinders, one thing is crystal clear that LPG is a nonrenewable source so, society as a community has to come forward with other methods or solutions to substitute LPGs. Advice from experienced and learned people should be taken into consideration. People should be encouraged to use solar systems (which include solar cookers or water heaters) or electrical stoves. If we do not preserve and protect the remaining little natural resources then we will go back to the old-time and survive.