After the success of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)/cooking gas, the government has now decided to launch DBT for kerosene (DBTK), starting with pilots in the State of Jharkhand. Delhi, Chandigarh, Bengaluru already achieved the status of getting the kerosene free recently.
Kerosene is an oil, often called paraffin oil or heating oil that is used to power and fuel both industrial / commercial engines and machinery as well as powering domestic heating systems.
Heating oil is produced from the distillation of petroleum. This is done at a high temperature between 150 and 275 degrees. This is when one starts to break down the petroleum into separate component with the lighter hydrocarbons rising and the higher boiling point components are left at the bottom.
Uses of Kerosene oil
Fuel oil, also called kerosene, home heating oil, diesel fuel or coal oil, is used to power various kinds of engines, lamps, heaters, stoves and lanterns. It is also stored in compact vessels for use in space heaters and used to clean metal components.
National Sample Survey Office data highlights that kerosene is predominantly used as a lighting fuel in rural India, with less than 1 per cent of households using it as a primary cooking fuel. In urban-poor households, it is used for both lighting and cooking.
There are health costs from kerosene, which is the main source of lighting for 43 percent of rural India. Fumes from kerosene and wood burning indoors "burn the eyes" and” difficulty in breathing." Kerosene fires and explosions are common in the rural India. Less known are the hazards from kerosene combustion.
Exposure to indoor air pollution" as a result of smoke from burning animal or vegetable matter is estimated to cause more than a half a million premature deaths a year in India. India's indoor pollution contributes to disabilities and early death to a greater degree than tobacco, high blood pressure and heart attacks.
It disproportionately impacts those who are indoors a lot, which is women and children. In 67 years we have completed almost 95 percent of the country getting electrified."
Currently, subsidised kerosene is mainly diverted as a substitute or as an adulterant to diesel. The price differential between unsubsidised kerosene and diesel is in the range between Rs.18 and Rs.32 per litre which is still significant for middlemen as well as end consumers to divert the fuel as diesel substitute.
Hurdles in Implementation of DBT:
• The lack of a streamlined and unified digital consumer database; the database of subsidised kerosene beneficiaries falls under the Public Distribution System (PDS), which is managed and maintained by each State government.While e-PDS is being implemented across India, a digital PDS beneficiary database is not yet available for all the States to enable implementation of DBTK.
• The political economy associated with subsidised kerosene. Since the States determine who gets the subsidy and to what extent, it is an important political currency for the State governments.
• DBTK has limited ability to reduce incentives for diversion.
Several alternative fuels have been considered in terms of their environmental impact. These alternatives include alcohols, methane, and hydrogen; more recently, some consideration has been given to using methylated esters of vegetable oils as kerosene extenders. Such fuels must be compatible with the basic capabilities and requirements of existing aircraft. They must have sufficient energy density, for example, to meet payload and range requirements. But these options take a toll on time and health.
Shifting from kerosene to alternatives such as solar-assisted solutions for lighting and LPG for cooking could be economically beneficial for both the government as well as households.
Moving away from subsidised kerosene and envisioning a kerosene-free India would be a visionary step towards the goal of clean energy access. The 2011 census says that, just 55 percent of rural homes use electricity as the primary source of lighting. By comparison, the World Bank says 99.7 percent of Chinese homes have access to electricity.Development of alternatives will be good option for clean environment.