President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday took the number of free LPG connections given to women from Below Poverty Line families under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) to 2. 5 crore by handing out a connection to Gouri Sarkar of Raghunathgunj in Murshidabad district.
The central government, which aims to provide LPG connections to five crore BPL households by 2019 under PMUY, has now reached half the target in 14 months.
The scheme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 1, 2016, at Ballia in Uttar Pradesh.
It is part of a larger programme of adding 10 crore new LPG connections by 2019 to achieve full coverage of connections in Indian households.
Besides Sarkar, Mukherjee handed out free LPG connections to 10 other women during the programme at Jangipur in Murshidabad district.
Mukherjee represented Jangipur constituency in the Lok Sabha for eight years from 2004 to 2012, when he was elected to the highest office of the land.
His son Abhijit Mukherjee is the present MP of Jangipur.
Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who was present on the occasion, told the media that till now 3. 5 lakh free LPG connections have been distributed in Murshidabad district alone.
Around 35 lakh connections have been provided in West Bengal under PMUY.
The number of LPG distributors has increased from 204 to 606 in the state to provide quick and better services to the people, he said.
The minister said the central government has decided to make Murshidabad district smoke - free by 2019.
West Bengal is the second largest beneficiary of LPG connections under the PMUY after Utter Pradesh.
Pradhan said one crore LPG connections will be provided in the eastern state under the scheme by 2019.