The distribution of free LPG cylinders under the Centre's flagship Ujjwala Scheme will not carry any religious connotation of being distributed only on popular festivals of the Hindu community, such as Holi and Diwali.
The UP government has, instead, decided to fix two duration bands, January to March and October to December, when the sop will be given to over 1.65 crore beneficiaries in the state.
The development came amid the state government's plan to extend the scheme entailing free ration distribution to nearly 15 crore econmically weak people after March.
Additional Commissioner, Food and Civil Supplies Department, Anil Kumar Dubey, said that the free gas cylinder distribution scheme is not related to any festival of a particular community or religion.
"Executing the scheme over a stipulated period will ensure its effective implementation and a wider outreach," Dubey told reporters.
He also confirmed that the free ration scheme is being actively considered for being extended after March.
Free distribution of gas cylinders during Holi and Diwali was one of the key poll promises, the BJP had made in the recently concluded UP elections.
The Ujjwala scheme, which was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Ballia in May 2016, is credited to have played a crucial role in the BJP's victory in the 2017 Assembly elections, the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and now in the 2022 UP polls.
While around 1.47 crore connections were provided during the first phase of the scheme in UP, the second phase which was rolled out from Mahoba in August last year proposed an additional 20 lakh gas connections.
According to sources in the state government, the implementation of the scheme entailing free LPG cylinders twice a year will incur an expenditure of around Rs 4,000 crore annually.