PATNA– Women in a village in Bihar are celebrating — as all its 240 households have been provided with cooking gas connections and they no longer have to use firewood, cow dung cake or charcoal to cook.

Kausar Bano and Anjum Ara are two of the nearly 300 women in Purakothi village in Arwal district, about 80 km from Patna, who are upbeat and relaxed as their village has become Bihar’s first smokeless village.

“Life has suddenly changed in our village. Now women in all households are using LPG to cook. We have been provided LPG stoves and cylinders, no one is using firewood or cow dung cake any more to cook. It is a big development for us,” said Anjum, who is in her late 40s.

All households have been provided with LPG connection under the “Mission Smokeless Village” after the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCL) adopted Purakothi last year, company official Arun Prasad said.

According to district officials, there are 250 houses in Purakothi but 10 of them are locked as the residents have shifted to other places.

“IOCL has made available LPG connection in 204 households, followed by 30 by BPCL and six by HPCL,” an official said.

Sagufta Khatoon said women are happier than men as they will no longer have to struggle with smoke, dust and dirt while cooking.

“We used to struggle for hours to cook with firewood, charcoal and cow dung cake during the monsoon season,” she said.

In Bihar’s rural areas, women are still dependent on firewood for their day’s cooking. Nearly 10 million households are still without LPG connection.