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Pradhan orders inspection, surprise checks after Uttar Pradesh oil raids

Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday ordered inspection of all petrol pumps in Uttar Pradesh and random checks elsewhere to detect short-selling of petrol and diesel by tampering with the system in dispensing units.

The move follows Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) raids on 11 petrol pumps that found out alleged stealing of 50 ml of fuel in every litre dispensed to customers.

A petrol pump "vanished" in Uttar Pradesh's Lucknow on Sunday night, just before a raid team arrived to confirm suspected petrol theft. The owners had ripped out the petrol dispensing machines and hid them. Pradhan said that though the responsibility of right quantity of product dispensed lies with state governments as their weights and measures department installs seals on dispensing units, two officials of state-owned fuel retailers have been suspended following the raids.

"We have initiated action against respective field officers. The strictest possible action will be taken against guilty petrol pumps, including termination of the licence," he told reporters here.
His ministry issued an order for inspection of all petrol pumps in Uttar Pradesh and random checks in other states to check tampering in dispensing units.

Oil marketing company representatives will accompany the UP police STF and officials of the state's weights and measures department, the food and civil supply department for inspection of all petrol pumps in Uttar Pradesh, he said.

"Responsibility to ensure proper measurement lies with the state's weights and measure department, but as owners, oil marketing companies also have to share the blame," he made it clear. "Surprise checks on fuel stations are to be conducted across the country."

The raids that unearthed a racket involving short delivery of fuel at petrol stations in Lucknow were carried at 11 petrol pumps based on specific information about tampering with fuel calibration by use of electronic chips.

Of these, electronic chips were found at nine fuel stations, three of which belong to Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and the remaining Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd BPCL).

The minister has spoken to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as well as the state chief secretary and the DGP on the issue.

The central and state governments have decided to hold a meeting in Lucknow in light of the raids, which will be chaired by the state chief secretary and will be attended by representatives of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and fuel retailers.
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