Petrol pump probe: STF hints at officials- dealers nexus
The UP Special Task Force’s (STF) probe into the multi-crore fuel scam in UP has raised a question mark over the working of petrol pump owners, authorities of oil companies, weights & measures department and others.
“The connivance of authorities, field officers and other agencies concerned cannot be ruled out when such malpractices are prevalant on such a large scale,” admitted Amit Pathak, SSP of STF.
Citing an example, a senior STF official said Satyam Filling Station in Vibhuti Khand was found dug up when the STF team carried out a raid there on Sunday night. The probe revealed that pump owner Pankaj Seth applied for maintenance and renewal on April 28, only few a hours after the STF began a crackdown on petrol pumps. He said the authorities concerned granted him permission on the same day itself.
He said all five dispensing units of the pump were uprooted on Sunday morning on the basis of the same permission. Cheating chips were later recovered from the dislodged dispensing units and the district administration stopped work at this fuel station.
Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) authorities transferred its sales officer of Lucknow territory, Ravi Singh for alleged negligence and giving approval for removing the dispensing units.
Similarly, the National Filling Station at KKC trisection in Charbagh was raided and it was found that one of the three dispensing units there had a seal of the weights and measures department, dated Saturday. “The probe revealed that the dispensing unit was opened in the presence of Rajan Singh, an official of the weights and measures department, on Saturday,” the official said.
The official said Singh, however, stated that the dispensing unit was opened as its annual examination was due but he failed to explain why senior authorities concerned were not informed when he was aware that searches at the petrol pumps were going on.
“Our investigation suggests that the tampering of machines is not possible without the consent of officials of oil companies and weights & measures department,” he emphasised.
The official said raids have exposed the nexus as the cheating chips have been found inside sealed fuel dispensing units. As per norms, the seal of these units can be opened only in the presence of officials from the weights & measures department and oil companies’ representatives.
“The question arises how these chips were put inside the units without their consent,” pointed out the official.
Another thing that came to fore was meter scale tampering by petrol pump owners. “The meter scale used to measure the quantity of fuel in the tank was found tampered. When checking these scales is a routine, then how did people concerned overlook it,” he asked.
He said the stock and sales records in all the erring petrol pumps were also found incomplete. “Such flaws are enough to hint at the involvement of the department in the scam. The probe is still on,” he added.
OIL COMPANIES SAY
Executive director of IOC, Avinash Varma while talking to media on Friday had admitted that they had initiated an internal inquiry and the sales officers will have to explain why the stock register had errors, why there were no proper entries of oil sold and why the stock in the petrol pumps’ tanks was more than the sale shown.
“The sales officers will have to explain why they gave a clean chit to the petrol pumps without thorough checking,” said Avinash Varma. He said those found guilty would be terminated.