Clues link fuel mafia to waste oil smugglers | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Clues link fuel mafia to waste oil smugglers

The waste oil smuggling racket — according to the Mumbai Customs department — could possibly be linked with the oil mafia that is purportedly behind the killing of additional collector Yashwant Sonawane in Manmad last month.

mumbai Updated: Feb 07, 2011 02:09 IST
Manish Pachouly

The waste oil smuggling racket — according to the Mumbai Customs department — could possibly be linked with the oil mafia that is purportedly behind the killing of additional collector Yashwant Sonawane in Manmad last month.

Because of the hazardous nature, the import and export of waste oil is banned in India. On the trail of smugglers, the Mumbai customs department has seized about 100 containers carrying 20 lakh litres of waste oil in the last few months. In 12 cases, the containers were seized from Nhava Sheva and Mumbai ports. The waste oil is smuggled from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar and other countries in the Gulf and Middle East.

“The smugglers take contracts to dump the waste oil that is left after the cleaning of refineries in these countries. But, instead of dumping, they smuggle it to India,” said a senior customs officer, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Declaring it as some genuine import material like mixed hydrocarbon oil, natural bitumen, base oil, alkyl benzene, SN 500 (oil) and SN 300 (oil), the smugglers manage to get the waste oil to India. Once it reaches outside the port area, it is handed over to the oil mafia, which, in turn, uses it to adulterate diesel.

Investigations revealed that the smugglers have used around 1,000 fake import export codes (IEC) to smuggle the waste oil. Possession of the IEC is a must for import or export of any goods.

It was found that the IECs are made on the names of slumdwellers by obtaining their personal details. “They make little changes in addresses to show that these people are not slumdwellers, but those involved in import and export,” the officer said. This, according to the officer, makes nabbing the actual smugglers difficult.

The authorities, however, have got clues about some members of the smuggling syndicate and hope to make a breakthrough soon. They have also found that there are three major groups in Mumbai involved in waste oil smuggling.

Besides, there are around seven groups that operate in the interiors of Maharashtra and Gujarat.

These groups use Nhava Sheva, Mumbai, Kandla, Gujarat, and Cochin, Kerala ports to smuggle waste oil.