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News18 » Videos » News18 Shorts

Decoding oil mafia: how pilfering takes place

Jan 27, 2011 10:02 PM IST India India

Nashik: A few days after Yashwant Sonawane sacrificed his life gathering evidence against the oil Mafia in Maharashtra, CNN-IBN learns the chain of racketeers runs deep across the state with oil being pilfered at the very first level of its coming into the market. Sonawane was burnt alive in a dingy looking and seemingly insignificant dhabba in Manmad, Maharashtra. Locations such as these are safe heaven for the fuel mafia operating in and around Nashik. Manmad has two major oil depots which supply fuel to at least 12 districts of north Maharashtra and Marathawada. Everyday an average of 300 tankers are filled and secured with an advanced lock. Before being dispatched a racketeer makes anywhere between Rs 3 to 5 lakh per day by selling adulterated fuel. CNN-IBN investigations show that many of the private fuel tankers are designed for oil pilferage. Each normal truck, with a capacity of 12 kilolitres, has three compartments of 4 kilolitres each. The specifically designed tankers have a hidden compartment with a capacity of another 50 to 100 litres inside one of the compartments When the trucks fill the fuel, the lid of the hidden compartment remains closed. The truck then goes to a retail outlet where the dealers check the quality and quantity of the fuel using dips. When the checks are over, the driver pulls the lid of the hidden compartment using a cable that he can access through a lever in his cabin. The chamber gets filled even as the fuel is being emptied out at the retail outlet. Fuel mafia gangs have a tie up with transporters and security guards posted at the oil companies. Once the tankers leave with fuel, a racketeer's network is alerted. Instead of heading directly for the consumer, the tankers are driven to the transfer points some of them on the Nashik-Mumbai highway. The other modus operandi is used by comparatively smaller mafia groups. The truck is taken to the illegal transfer point and around 25 to 40 liters of fuel is pilfered from every tanker. On an average about 5000 litres of fuel is stolen from approximately 200 fuel tankers. The petrol is then mixed with kerosene which is cheaper before being sent in the market. It’s observed that that pilferation is higher during summer as opposed to winter. Evaporation levels are higher during summer enabling the mafia to steal more fuel. A millimetre fall in fuel level could mean a difference of 2,000 to 3,000 litres. So a few hundreds of litres siphoned off by a truck driver may go unnoticed. With petrol prices going up and kerosene prices unchanged the incentive to adulterate is high. In 2005 the illegal market was pegged at Rs 10,000 cr. It’s only getting bigger. Sonawane's death should be the wake up call for the government and oil companies.

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