Reiterating that it was his government’s aim to ensure that every family was provided with an LPG connection, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that the Centre had fulfilled its promise of providing eight crore free gas connections to women from economically weaker sections under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) well ahead of the projected deadline. He was addressing a State-level Empowered Women’s Meet of Self Help Groups (SHG) organised by the Maharashtra State Rural Livelihood Mission (UMED) in Aurangabad.The occasion witnessed the handing over of free LPG gas connections to five women beneficiaries, thus completing the Central government’s target of eight crore free gas connections under the scheme, almost seven months before their deadline of March 2020.“The resolution that our government had taken to provide eight crore free gas connections under Ujjwala Yojna was fulfilled today, seven months ahead of the planned date,” said Mr. Modi, adding that the programme had gone a long way in empowering women from the BPL category by preserving their health and making their kitchens ‘smoke-free’.Ayesha Sheikh Rafique of Aurangabad became the eighth crore person to benefit from the scheme and was felicitated by the Prime Minister with four other women.“The first target under the Ujjwala scheme [when launched in May 2016] was to provide five crore connections. The target was later increased to eight crore connections and I am happy to say that within 100 days of the forming of our government, this has been achieved… The work was not only limited to giving gas connections. A massive infrastructure was put in place as new LPG bottling plants were installed to meet the demand,” Mr. Modi said.Commenting on the agrarian crisis and water scarcity in the State’s parched Marathwada region, the Prime Minister said that the proposed Marathwada Water Grid was a laudable project which would bring much relief to the farmers and households in the area besides help solve irrigation problems.“Women in the rural hinterland of Maharashtra and elsewhere have to face much trouble in collecting water. The great Socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia in the 1960s had said that there were two main problems facing the Indian woman: sanitation and drinking water… But despite so many governments and leaders after that, it is only our [BJP-led NDA] government that had the resolve to solve these pressing problems,” said Mr. Modi.He also said that the Centre was planning to spend ₹3.5 lakh crore in the next five years on the ambitious ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ which aims to resolve potable water problems across the country.Stating that SHGs were not only a means of enhancing economic security, but also a tool for social transformation, Mr. Modi said that his government was determined to ensure that every woman in the country availed of SHG subsidy benefits.“Should the need arise, then under the SHG subsidy benefit, women can withdraw ₹5,000 from their Jan Dhan bank accounts on zero overdraft charges. They will also receive loans upto ₹1 lakh under the Mudra Scheme,” the Prime Minister said.Addressing the audience, Mr. Modi said his government was committed to the safety and growth of women and said that society needed to change its attitude towards women.“Keeping this in mind, we passed a strict law for triple talaq for the benefit of women from the Muslim community. Now, awareness needs to be spread about this,” he said.He further said that he had full confidence that all resolutions taken by the Central government in the last five years, be they financial reforms or social schemes, would be carried out by 2022, the 75th year of Independence.