petrol pumps

Clampdown on Petrol Pumps Fizzling Out

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What started with a loud bang has started to whimper. This is what action against petrol pumps scam could be precisely described. The STF (Special Task Force) has busted the fraud and cheating done by the petrol pumps across the U.P. as the dispensing machines were fitted with electronic chips and manipulated through remote control devices. The scam busted resulted into sealing of many petrol pumps in state capital. The fast track campaign against petrol pumps has watered down tremendously merely within two days. No pumps are being sealed, no fraudster is being arrested, and no cases are being registered.

By Saujanya Tripathi

The whole scenario changed after the strike of petrol pump owners. A meeting was held with district administration and relief was presented on a platter to the pump owners. Now the government says that action will be taken only when investigation of machines proves tampering and theft. Surprisingly, the raids on pumps are now being carried by officials of W&M (weight and measures) Department, Civil Supplies and Oil Companies even all of them are said to be hands in gloves with the pump operators. Raids on petrol pumps are continuing, but only those dispensing machines are being sealed which are found to be tampered.

The Petroleum Minister had initially promised strict action against erring pump owners and cancellation of license but no such action has been taken so far. The ministry and the minister is keeping mum over the issue which surely is the biggest scam of all time in India.

Probable Reasons for Cover-up

  • Mega Money196.48 million ton of fuel was sold in India in 2016. If only 10% of this was stolen, it amounts to 19.64 million ton. Converted into money, this surely is mega money which must have been shared at various levels. This is besides money made from adultration.

  • Influential People – Most of the petrol pumps are owned by influential people and politicians.

  • Oil Companies – Oil adulteration, machine tampering and fuel theft is not possible without oil companies’ involvement, so basically these scams are ingrained at the Central level.

  • Govt Official’s – Weight’s & Measure and Civil Supply Department are part of the scam.

ALSO READ: Educated But Unemployable in U.P.

Official speak

    • A senior police officer said that the state’s Chief Secretary, Rahul Bhatnagar and DGP Sulkhan Singh are beating only around the bush. Terming the action by state government as plain eye-wash, he quipped “will a thief enter your house in your presence?

    • According to Chief General Manager of Indian Oil, Manoj Kumar Awasthi, petrol outlets, guilty of stealing oil will be seized. He says that the checking of pumps will now be done in the presence of top administrative officials and senior staff of Oil Company.

    • On the other hand, the president of Lucknow Petrol Pump Owners Association, Ranjeet Gaur did not comment over oil theft but he accused the state government of being biased.

    • There are 98 petrol pumps in Lucknow including 48 of IOC, 22 of BP and 24 of HP. According to Hindustan Petroleum officials, most of the petrol pumps are owned by politicians or mafia who resort to all sort of malpractices and it is very difficult to take action against them. The officials recalled that an IOC’s regional officer murdered in Lakhimpur Kheri when he took action against such a pump owner.

    • Unofficial sources say that 90 percent of all petrol pumps are fleecing customers by short changing them. A petrol pump owners stated that every month they bribe Oil Company’s and Weight and Measures department’s officials. The Supply Department also takes their cut.

The Accountable Authorities

To operate a petrol pump, District Supply Department, Oil Marketing Company (OMC), Original Equipment Manufacturer and Weight and Measures Department have prominent roles to play. The Supply Department ensures the proper supply from the Depot to the pump, while OMC maintains the records of the oil dispensed from the machines. OEM keeps a check at the dispenser machines and the Weights and Measures Department puts a seal on the dispenser machines.

Action Taken So Far

On 27th April, STF raided and sealed more than two dozens of petrol pumps found guilty of fuel theft. Almost all the raided petrol pumps were involved in scam and so far more than 23 people have been arrested so far that includes five petrol pump owners and nine managers at petrol pumps.

This investigation started off when a petrol pump in Barabanki District was raided and Shekhar Rajendra was arrested in connection with the scam. He disclosed that he has himself installed thousands of electronic chips in the dispenser machines. As per STF estimates, on an average Rs 12 to 15 lacs of petrol theft takes place in a month due to this tampering. There are around 6000 petrol pumps and 60000 nozzles in Uttar Pradesh, which accounts for Rs 150 Crore of petrol theft monthly.

According to Rajendra, 90 percent of petrol pumps are involved in this scam and Delhi ranks higher in the list of petrol theft. For every 1 litre of petrol, 50 – 100 ml of fuel is being less dispensed off.

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