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May 14 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


Recent study highlighting heavy reliance on fuelwood in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal, despite government efforts to promote Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), highlights the challenges of transitioning to cleaner cooking fuels in rural areas.  

The high prices of LPG, coupled with environmental concerns associated with fuelwood usage, call for accessible and sustainable alternatives.  

Key Highlights of the Study: 

Dependence on Forests for Fuelwood: 

  • Local communities in Jalpaiguri heavily rely on forests for fuelwood due to limited access to alternative cooking fuels. 

Economic Constraints: 

  • Commercial LPG cylinders are priced at over Rs 1500, making them unaffordable for many households, especially those below the poverty line. 

Government Initiatives: 

  • Schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) facilitated the transition to LPG initially, but subsequent price hikes posed challenges. 
  • Despite efforts to increase LPG penetration, high costs deter households from frequent cylinder refills. 

Environmental and Social Implications: 

  • Dependence on fuelwood contributes to forest degradation and increases human-wildlife conflicts, particularly encounters with elephants. 
  • Persisting fuelwood usage jeopardizes forest health, wildlife habitats, and local livelihoods. 

Sustainable Alternatives: 

  • Collaborative efforts with the West Bengal Forest Department aim to promote sustainable forest management practices. 
  • Initiatives include planting high-value fuelwood saplings, promoting efficient cooking stoves, and engaging stakeholders for resource governance. 

Government Push for LPG Adoption: 

Government Initiatives: 

  • The Indian government launched various schemes to promote LPG adoption in rural households, such as the PMUY and direct benefit transfers under the ‘PAHAL’ scheme. 
  • Programs like direct home-refill deliveries and the ‘Give it Up’ initiative aimed to increase LPG usage and reduce reliance on traditional fuels. 


  • Despite government efforts, LPG prices in India remain among the highest globally, hindering widespread adoption, especially among low-income households. 
  • High prices of LPG cylinders pose affordability challenges, particularly for rural communities. 

Factors Driving High LPG Prices in India: 

Dependency on Imports: 

  • India heavily relies on imported LPG, with more than 60% of its needs being met through imports. 
  • Fluctuations in international prices, influenced by factors like the average Saudi Contract Prices (CP) for propane and butane, impact LPG prices in India. 

Import Dynamics: 

  • India’s import dependence underscores its vulnerability to global market trends, particularly in the Middle East, its largest LPG supplier. 
  • Pricing formulas for LPG in India are tied to international market dynamics, contributing to price fluctuations. 

Impact on Consumers: 

  • Recent price hikes, driven by increases in average Saudi CP, have adversely affected consumers, particularly low-income households. 
  • Taxes and dealer commissions contribute minimally to the retail price of LPG cylinders, with the majority attributed to the cost of LPG itself. 

Potential Solutions for Reducing Fuelwood Dependency: 

Promoting Renewable Energy Sources: 

  • Encouraging the adoption of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower can reduce reliance on fuelwood. 
  • Policies and incentives, such as feed-in tariffs and subsidies, can promote the uptake of renewable energy technologies. 

Improved Cookstoves: 

  • Distributing Improved Cookstoves (ICS) that burn fuelwood more efficiently can reduce consumption. 
  • Projects in countries like Nepal have demonstrated significant reductions in fuelwood needs through the use of ICS. 

Alternative Fuels: 

  • Promoting alternative fuels like biogas, pellets, or briquettes made from agricultural waste can provide sustainable energy sources. 
  • These alternatives can help alleviate the demand for fuelwood while reducing environmental impacts. 

Sustainable Forest Management Practices: 

  • Implementing sustainable forest management practices is crucial for maintaining a balance between fuelwood extraction and forest regeneration. 
  • Practices such as selective harvesting and afforestation can help mitigate the environmental impact of fuelwood consumption. 


Addressing the heavy reliance on fuelwood in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal, requires a multi-faceted approach that encompasses government interventions, community engagement, and sustainable alternatives.  

Despite government efforts to promote LPG adoption, affordability challenges persist, highlighting the need for accessible alternatives.  

By promoting renewable energy sources, improving cookstove efficiency, and implementing sustainable forest management practices, India can reduce its dependency on fuelwood and mitigate environmental impacts.  

Mains Question: 

  1. “Discuss the challenges and potential solutions for reducing fuelwood dependency in rural areas, with a focus on Jalpaiguri, West Bengal, in the context of government initiatives and environmental sustainability.” (150 WORDS)


May 14
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category:
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