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Oil’s not well behind 20-ft-high walls in this Barmer factory

The factory in Barmer Dadan, 10 km from Barmer city, was one of the first factories police raided to unearth one of the biggest oil theft scams

jaipur Updated: Jul 26, 2017 19:48 IST
Mukesh Mathrani
Mukesh Mathrani
Hindustan Times
Rajasthan,Barmer factory,High walls
The underground tankers at a Barmer factory where crude oil stolen from Cairn wells was stored. (HT Photo)

It looks like a scrap yard from outside – spread over an acre of land in an isolated area about four km off the national highway 15. Boundary walls, which are 20 feet high, make it look like a fortress where no one is allowed.

When Barmer police raided this campus on Monday, they couldn’t find anything wrong. The place looked innocuous with worn-out tyres, oil drums and tankers.

But when the men who took the police officials to this place removed the tyres to expose eight underground storage tanks, police hit the jackpot. This place was one of the six such factories found in the last fortnight where crude oil stolen from Cairn oil wells was sold.

The factory in Barmer Dadan, 10 km from Barmer city, was one of the first factories police raided to unearth one of the biggest oil theft scams.

On Tuesday, when HT visited the place, there were a few policemen deployed to guard the campus. “Sorry, you are not allowed inside,” said one of them when this correspondent tried to go inside for a ground check. “Please talk to senior officers for permission,” the policeman said.

A few furlongs away, there’s a small tea shop where probably the factory workers went for refreshment. Asked about the activities at the factory, the shopkeeper tersely said, “Don’t drag me into this. I have no idea about what happened here.” He even forbade HT from clicking his stall’s picture.

No one has any clue about how many people worked in the factory and where they have gone after the police action.

Police said the factory is owned by Gautam Singh Rajpurohit who was arrested last week after Cairn verified 43,000 litre of crude recovered from the underground tanks here was from the oil major’s oilfields.

After this, police raided five other such factories – two in Barmer and three in Jalore district – as the investigation into the case progressed.

The lid was blown off this scam when Barmer police arrested a tanker driver with stolen crude oil in Nagana on July 13. Cairn officials, police said, had lodged an FIR in Nagana police station, saying that they suspected a bigger theft racket; police then unearthed the racket, which, by a rough estimate, has stolen 50 million litre of crude oil in last six years.

Crude produced from Cairn wells is transported to the processing terminal through tankers. Police found out that some of the tankers hacked into the GPS system to divert the crude to factories, such as the one in Barmer Dadan.

So far, 31 people, including 17 tanker drivers, have been arrested in the case. The drivers are in jail and others are in police custody until July 28.

First Published: Jul 26, 2017 19:48 IST