The near free run of the Burdwan oil mafia has yet again put the Mamata government in a spot, with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) claiming pilferage of crude oil from its two pipelines passing through the district.
This kind of pilferage has already been a worry for the PSU in neighbouring Bihar.
Concerned, the PSU has announced cash reward for those who call in with information on pilferage or send word to local authorities and police administration to nab the culprits.
On Friday, the DGM of IOC held talks with the Burdwan SP and reportedly urged him to ensure proper security of its interests in the district.
The DGM also requested the district police administration to step up night patrolling by armed police personnel, especially in areas where pilferage has been reported in the recent past.
Earlier, in the Khandoghosh area, police caught two locals in the act of stealing oil from an IOC pipeline.
The IOC management has reportedly claimed pilferage at its interests at its Madhavdi, Raina, Khandoghosh, Galsi, Ausgram, Bhatar and Jamalpur blocks of Burdwan.
A top IOC official said the problem, has in the recent months, been rife in Bihar, but there are no known precedents of such pilferage in Burdwan. The PSU has reportedly deployed observers to keep a close vigil on its interests and probe previous incidents of theft in the district.
“The Pradip-Haldia-Barauni (PHBPL) pipeline is one of our major installations, as it supplies crude oil to our three refineries in Haldia, Barauni (in Bihar) and Bongaigaon (in Assam). This pipeline is of national importance. Our two pipelines, which cover 124 km, taken together, pass through Burdwan. As recently as December 8, 2014, there was an attempt to pilfer crude at our underground pipeline at Badulia-Kantapukur road in the Khandoghosh. However, the police caught them in the act. We are grateful to the police for moving in on time and catching them red-handed,” Sukhendu Roy, deputy general manager of PHBPL, told HT.
An FIR was lodged in the case and the culprits were booked under multiple sections of the IPC and Petroleum and Minerals Pipeline Act, 1962.
However, even in the wake of the botch-up on December 8, suspects have been spotted hovering around the Khandoghosh pipeline, sources said.
“Our pipelines pass through agricultural lands, barren lands and even remote areas, where surveillance is lax and the oil mafia has a near free run. They culprits operate in a planned manner. This is a matter of concern and we urge the state to look into it at the earliest. One should bear in mind that such rising cases of pilferage could lead to heavy leakage which, in turn, could result in a fire hazard, damage to environment and damage to property and life. It could potentially disrupt supply of crude to our refineries in the eastern region,” Roy told HT.
During his parleys with Burdwan SP SMH Meerza, Roy reportedly briefed him on threats to IOC officials in the district and urged intervention of the police. The SP has since sent out a whip to all police stations in the district, asking to step up night patrolling, especially in areas where the mafia is known to operate.
“We earlier arrested three people trying to sneak off with 800 litres of crude. We’ve also been holding meetings with IOC officials every three weeks. We’ve asked them to arrange for some vehicles, so we could step up night patrolling in vulnerable areas. We’ve also advised them to eqiup their observers with mobile phones and other communication tools, so they could reach us at any time,” the Burdwan SP said.