11 March 2016 Current Affairs: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 10 March 2016 approved Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.The scheme seeks to provide free LPG connections to women from below poverty line (BPL) households and builds on the objective of achieving universal coverage of cooking gas in the country.Incidentally, this is the first time the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas would implement a welfare scheme benefitting crores of women belonging to the poorest households.Under this scheme, a financial support of 1600 rupees will be provided for each LPG connection to the BPL households.The identification of eligible BPL families will be made in consultation with the State Governments and the Union Territories.This will benefit about 1 crore 50 lakh households below the poverty line in 2016-17.It will be implemented at an estimated cost of 8000 crore rupees over three years between April 2016 and March 2019 to cover 5 crore BPL households.It is complimentary to Prime Minister’s Give It Up campaign under which 75 lakh middle class and lower middle class households have voluntarily given up their cooking gas subsidy.In India, the poor have limited access to cooking gas (LPG). The spread of LPG cylinders has been predominantly in the urban and semi-urban areas with the coverage mostly in middle class and affluent households.But, there are serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuels. According to an estimate of the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 5 lakh deaths in India alone occur due to unclean cooking fuels.Most of these premature deaths were due to non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Indoor air pollution is also responsible for a significant number of acute respiratory illnesses in young children.According to experts, having an open fire in the kitchen is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour.Against this backdrop, the Union Government took up thechallenge of providing LPG connections to BPL households. This measure will empower women and protect their health.It will also reduce drudgery and the time spent on cooking and provide employment for rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas.