The relaxation would be available only to those beneficiaries who have been credited with the advance for buying the cylinder but have not been able to purchase the refill.
The government on Wednesday allowed poor women beneficiaries of the Ujjwala scheme time till September-end to avail the unclaimed LPG cylinders out of the quota of three free cooking gas bottles that were given as pandemic relief.
The government had in March announced three 14.2-kg LPG cylinders free of cost to about 8 crore Ujjwala beneficiaries from April to June to help them cope with the economic pain of the coronavirus lockdown.
But since not all rural and poor households -- the principal beneficiaries of the Ujjwala scheme -- consume one cylinder every month, some could not avail their full quota of three cylinders, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters in New Delhi.
To help such people, the Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the period for availing the free cooking gas by three months till September-end, he said.
An official statement said the relaxation would be available only to those beneficiaries who have been credited with the advance for buying the cylinder but have not been able to purchase the refill.
According to the procedure, the price of one cylinder is paid as advance into bank accounts of beneficiaries.
Once the beneficiary uses this amount to buy a cylinder from the market, the advance amount for the next refill will be credited to bank accounts.
Some of the beneficiaries could not use the money in their account to buy an LPG refill before June 30.
They have now been given an opportunity to do so by September 30.
"On review of the scheme, it has been observed that a section of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) beneficiaries are yet to utilise the advance credited into their account to purchase the cylinder refill within the scheme period.
"Hence, the Cabinet has approved the proposal of the ministry of petroleum & natural gas to extend the time-limit for availing the advance by three months.
This will benefit those PMUY beneficiaries who have been credited with the advance for buying the cylinder but have not been able to purchase the refill.
"Thus, the beneficiaries who already have the advance transferred to their account can now take the free refill delivery till September 30," the statement said.
Officials said no fresh transfer of money will be done into bank accounts and only unutilized credits for the purchase of LPG have been allowed till September.
In March, the government had announced a relief package 'Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana' aimed at providing a safety net to the poor and vulnerable who had been hit the hardest by the pandemic.
Besides free ration, the package included relief for poor families who had availed an LPG connection under PMUY.
Under the PMGKY-Ujjwala, it was decided to provide free of cost refills for PMUY consumers for a period of three months with effect from April 1, 2020.
"Under the scheme, Rs 9709.86 crore was transferred directly into the bank accounts of Ujjwala beneficiaries during April-June 2020 and 11.97 crore cylinders were delivered to the PMUY beneficiaries.
“The scheme went a long way to ameliorate the suffering and disruption caused due to the coronavirus pandemic," it said.
Photograph: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters