Sunday, January 18, 2009

Oil theft on Pune Highway

During a midnight travel on Mumbai’s roads, I came across with an oil adulteration racket. After watching the developments on the roads closely, I came to a conclusion that most of the industrial units in Maharashtra probably do not get pure fuel. What they receive is actually an adulterated form of the pure fuel which affects their productivity. Reason: Whenever the pure fuel is transported from Mumbai, it is theft and later adulterated with water and powder near Vadgaon Maval in Pune district.

The industrial units use Furnace Oil as the fuel for the generation of power or heat. The oil is transported from Sewree to Pune railway yard everyday. From Pune, it is further carried out to various industrial units in the state. Public sector refineries produce Furnace Oil.

The Furnace Oil is theft and adulterated in Vadgaon Maval. Everyday at least 50 tankers carry the oil to Pune. A gang of oil thieves is active in Vadgaon Maval. They stop the tankers, steal a few tones of the oil from the tankers and add water and powder in the remaining oil. Furnace oil is available in the market at a price of Rs2 lakh per metric tonn. Due to theft and adulteration, the government is losing more than Rs1 crore per day.

As far as storage of Furnace Oil is concerned, the rules governing the same are less stringent compared to more volatile fuels like petrol and diesel. If water is contained in the Furnace Oil it can cause sputtering of the flame at the burner tip.

I was surprised when Ravindra Kadam, superintendent of police (Pune rural), admitted that the oil was theft in his area. “Probably, drivers of the oil tankers have nexus with the oil thieves. But I do not think there is any gang operational in the area. However, I will look into the matter and investigate it thoroughly,” he told me.

The most interesting part is that though the oil theft has been reported, no oil company has officially complained about it till date.

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