Complaints from vehicle-owners and operators about the poor quality of fuel and fraudulent practices in volume in many petrol pumps has driven the consumer affairs department to conduct surprise raids to check meters and quality.
A task force will be formed, comprising officials from the consumer affairs department, the four oil companies and representatives of the Petroleum Dealers’ Association, to conduct the raids. “We intend to prevent consumers from being cheated either in terms of quality or quantity. Customers must get the proper goods at the proper prices. The team will visit pumps and check the quality of fuel and the weights and measures. Summary action will be taken if foul play is detected,’’ said consumer affairs minister Naren De.
“A sample survey in some petrol pumps in north and south Calcutta showed that three pumps had faulty scales and another two sold adulterated fuel. We have not disclosed the names of the pumps or taken any action because we have sent the samples to the oil firms for a cross-check,’’ said a senior officials of the consumer affairs department. Apart from checking the fuel in the pumps, the tankers carrying fuel will also come under the scanner.
While officials alleged that fuel is mainly adulterated by the pump-owners, the West Bengal Petroleum Dealers’ Association blamed the oil firms for poor quality. “There is a fixed specification on the quality of petrol and diesel. When any tanker arrives, we check the fuel. Many times, we found the fuel did not conform to the specifications. We sent the tanker back, but in protest, the oil firms delayed supply,’’ complained association general secretary Jaydeb Sarkar.
“I do not say that all pump-owners are fully honest. But much of the adulteration is carried out by the tanker-owners and operators,’’ he said. Sarkar demanded that the oil firms seal the underground storage tanks of the pumps to prevent the owners from adulterating the fuel.
Indian Oil general manager P. K. Basu countered: “There are technical problems. The Explosives Act will not permit it. I do not believe that sealing storage tanks will check adulteration.”