Rattled by the killing of an additional collector who tried to check fuel adulteration near Manmad on Tuesday, the state government has ordered statewide crackdown on oil mafia.
CM Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday not only ordered a thorough probe into Nasik additional collector Yashwant Sonawane's murder, but also asked authorities to conduct raids on the oil mafia.
The opposition accused the Chavan government of losing control over and providing political patronage to the oil mafia.
"The mafia raj has blessings from the government," said BJP leader Gopinath Munde.
Food and civil supplies minister Anil Deshmukh said officials will seek police protection during raids.
A fuel racket — that of diesel adulterated with kerosene — is rampant in the state. The business of adulteration grows further when petrol/diesel prices are hiked, especially on highways and spots close to the oil company depots.
"Usually trucks that transport kerosene, petrol and diesel are close to secluded spots where kerosene is mixed with costly fuel. The operators use power equipment such as pumps to transfer fuel," said an official.
Government sources said kerosene, which is sold at subsidised rates for public distribution, gets diverted for adulteration purposes. According to the Anti-adulteration Cell of India, naphtha is a commonly adulterant for petrol.
Additional chief secretary (home) Umesh Sarangi said all efforts would be made to control fuel adulteration. In 2006, the state CID had formed a special cell to check adulteration of petrol and diesel.
Investigations had found that some 15 gangs operated in the state.
The cell identified areas like Goa highway, the Mumbai-Pune highway, Pune-Bangalore highway, Nasik-Dhule and Jalgaon, parts of Marathwada and Vidarbha as the main trouble spots.