Use of adulterated fuel is directly linked with stealing of petrol, diesel and kerosene from loaded oil tankers enroute terminals of oil companies to refuelling stations.
The problem of short supply of fuel at refuelling stations had emerged during the Left Front rule as some local goons had started taking out fuel from loaded tankers after they came out of the terminals.
Initially, they used to commit the crime by threatening truck drivers and helpers. Later a large section of the drivers had started working hand in gloves with the goons.
Business of many refuelling stations mainly on the highways had affected badly when the menace had reached to its height.
But some steps of the state government in the past five years had helped to check the stealing of petroleum products from oil tankers to a certain extent. But it had not been possible to uproot the racket operating in different parts of the state.
Thus, the members of the associations have prepared a list of recommendations that could help in bringing an end to the business of adulterated fuel and they would approach the Chief Minister with the same once she resumes her office.
In south Bengal, the fuel terminals are situated at Budge Budge, Haldia, Rajbandh and Mourigram and in north Bengal the terminals are in Siliguri, Hasimara and Malda. Members of the racked operate outside all the terminals.
They give some money to drivers of oil tankers to park the vehicle aside and pump out petrol, diesel or kerosene. Later they sell the same in open market at a much cheaper rate.
Truck drivers are well aware of the places where such adulterated fuel is available. They buy the fuel from those places at a cheaper price and it results to a drop in sell at refuelling stations.
The refuelling stations on highways and villages were badly affected. Sale of each of the refuelling stations had gone down from 12,000 litre to around 6,000 litre daily.
The sale tax on petroleum at present is around 25 per cent while that of 17 per cent on diesel.
The drop in sale of course resulted to less sale tax generation, said Tushar Kanti Sen, president of West Bengal Petroleum Dealers’ Association, adding that “as per our calculation the state government is incurring a loss of around Rs 8,000 crore every year. We as representatives of the petroleum dealers in the state will approach our Chief Minister once she resumes her office after the formation of the new government.”
The owners of refuelling stations incur loss due to short supply of fuel because it is being stolen on way and on the other hand everyday sale also goes down as the same stolen oil is sold by the black marketers at a cheaper rate.
The matter had also come up during a conference of the petroleum dealers’ associations from different parts of the country that held in Delhi a few months ago.
As per the discussion in the conference, owners of refuelling station are facing similar problem in states including Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand. According to Sen, as fuel theft is taking place outside the terminals, the local administration has to take stringent steps to uproot the racket. GPS tracking system to keep a check whether the oil tankers were stopping anywhere enroute didn’t work in the state.
He said among many recommendations of the petroleum dealers’ associations one was round the clock patrolling in the area where members of the rackets stop oil tankers to pump out fuel.
Besides leading to a loss in the state’s exchequer, use of the adulterated fuel leads to air pollution as different chemicals are mixed with the fuel stolen from oil tankers to increase its quantity.