Fuel adulteration racket busted; chain of dubious nexus suspected
DIMAPUR, JUNE 27 : A fuel adulteration racket of huge proportions, exposed on Monday by the anti-graft movement, Against Corruption and Unabated Taxation (ACAUT), could yet unravel a potential nexus between the Department of Food and Civil Supplies and the oil suppliers involved in the racket.
Raids conducted at four locations, rather notoriously known as “mixing units”, on Monday afternoon uncovered the racket that involves a staggering volume of kerosene oil and other chemicals that are mixed with petroleum oil. Aside from several thousand litres stocked up in storage tanks of all sizes inside the “mixing units”, it involves at least 4 oil tankers filled with kerosene.
On a day, when the chief minister launched the state’s Food Security Act at Dimapur, this turn of event has raised some serious questions about the Department of Food and Civil Supplies. As put by one of the members of ACAUT: “It is obvious that the department of Food and Civil Supplies is involved. How can several thousand litres of kerosene go missing without the knowledge of the officials?”
The raids were simultaneously conducted at Gorapatti, Model Village at 5th Mile and at Nagame petrol pump in Chumukedima. The final raid was at a “mixing unit” in Tata parking area, behind Ana-Ki building. The numbers tabulated after the raids are simply staggering.
At Gorapatti, where searches were conducted at three different premises, there were three oil tankers filled with kerosene oil, one 5000-litre capacity storage full of kerosene, one 5000-litre capacity storage half-filled with kerosene, ten 2000-litre capacity storages full of kerosene, three 2000-litre capacity storages half-filled with kerosene and three 1000-litre capacity storages half-filled with kerosene.
In addition, there were also 3 kilos of “red-coloured chemical”, 2 kilos of “red-coloured powder”, one 1000-litre capacity tank full of “acid/spirit”, 4 motor pumps and 80 litres “red-coloured zero solvent”. As per information provided, there are 7 suppliers – Umesh, Srikanth, Dinanath Shah, Naval, Lal Mohan and Ajay – who use the Gorapatti “mixing unit” for adulteration.
The “mixing unit” at Model Village, 5th Mile, is reportedly run by the duo Ajay Prasad and Romeo. There, ACAUT members along police and administrative officials found one oil taker, nine 2000-litre capacity tanks filled with kerosene, 4 corrugated tanks filled with kerosene, 2 motor pumps and 3 detached oil-truck tanks. A minor boy working at the unit was also taken into custody.
At the “mixing unit” at Tata parking area, there were 6 oil tankers, ten 2000-litre capacity storages full of kerosene, four 1000-litre capacity storages full of kerosene and 5 motor pumps. This unit is run by Dinanath Shah.
At Chumukedima, the “mixing unit” was found operating right behind the “Nagame” petrol pump – both ran by Dinanath Shah though the registration was done under the name of one Dirang Lungalang. There were 8 oil tankers, eight 2000-litre capacity storages filled with kerosene, another 5 tanks filled with kerosene and around 16 containers of chemical solutions.
According to information provided by the workers there, the adulterated oil was supplied to two petrol pumps at Dimapur and one each at Kohima, Phek, Wokha and Kiphire.
Four of the workers there, including the manager of the petrol pump, Amar Choudary, were taken into custody. The youths of the locality demanded that the gas station must remain closed until the case comes to a “logical conclusion”.
ACAUT members also demanded that all the suppliers named should be arrested and the lands were the “mixing units” were established be confiscated. They demanded that the district administration and the police probe the “involvement” of the Department of Food and Civil Supplies.
“They should find it out in one week and the results should be made public. They should also find out the places where the (adulterated) fuels are supplied and all the names of the petrol pumps in all the districts should be published in the newspapers.”
The ACAUT members said that it was an “inter-state racket”, since the adulterated fuel was supplied even to Manipur. “This shows that not only the department (sic) but even officials at the highest level of government are involved.”
On the notes recovered from the “mixing unit” at Chumukedima – one from the “ministry of mineral and natural resources” of NNC (Non-Accordist) seeking an unspecified amount of “yearly contribution” and the other, an acknowledgement from the NSCN (IM)’s “ministry of chaplee affairs” of receiving Rs 4,32,500 “on account of SK oil” – the ACAUT members said that it was a clear indication of a “nexus” between the suppliers and the NPGs.