The LPG Panchayat brings together about 100 women LPG customers near their living areas on an interactive platform to discuss about safe and sustainable usage of LPG, its benefits and the linkage between use of clean fuel for cooking and women empowerment. This meeting is not one that is conducted at the end of the programme to showcase the programme's achievements or to only discuss any grievances. This is a meeting that is being conducted while the work of spreading clean cooking fuel is in process.
The experts see a very strong connection between clean coking fuel like LPG and better health, better environment, improved economic conditions and overall women empowerment. During the LPG Panchayat the participant women and other stakeholders connected with domestic LPG will get together to assess whether such positive changes are being seen in the lives of LPG customers and deliberate over what can be done to bring about this overall positive change. This Panchayat will further the work initiated by PMUY, where the OMCs and LPG distributors will work towards enhancing LPG coverage and improving the service quality and the participating women will take actions to realize the new possibilities that have opened up in their lives post Ujjwala.
Creating a space for Dialogue: Talking to participants about their consumption pattern will help understand their refill behaviour; what pushes them to buy more refills and what are the deterrents. One should also get a rough demand projection for refills for that village/ community, at the end of the LPG Panchayat.
Graduation ceremony: LPG Panchayat is like a graduation ceremony for both Ujjwala beneficiaries as well as LPG distributors. Ujjwala consumers graduate from being beneficiaries to active consumers; distributors are graduating from being benefactors to service providers. Through discussions between these stakeholders should emerge clear expectations of service standards from the consumers which will guide the service quality provided by the distributors. LPG Panchayat will help the new consumers know what to expect while at the same time increasing the distributors’ understanding of their new customers.
Capturing the dreams and aspirations: One goal of the LPG Panchayat is to document the range of ideas and dreams that women want to pursue, once their cooking time decreases due to access to LPG. These dreams are crucial for designing programs and policies which match the aspirations of these women and lead them to economic independence and social empowerment.
Reaffirming the message of safety: ‘Safety is paramount’ has been the underlining belief throughout the implementation of Ujjwala program. Through the LPG Panchayat, participants will learn about safe and responsible use of LPG and also begin to re-imagine their cooking spaces in terms of making them ‘LPG safe’.
Expanding coverage: There may be participants in the LPG Panchayat who still do not have an LPG connection. This may be for a variety of reasons which will be discussed and addressed during the LPG Panchayat. The concerned distributor can follow up and see if these participants are eligible for Ujjwala or should they be applying for a general connection.