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Raid unearths 450 cylinders

Economic offences wing personnel conduct a raid at an LPG warehouse in Patna City on Wednesday. Picture by Sachin

The economic offences unit unearthed a racket of refill-and-sale of LPG cylinders during a raid in Patna City on Wednesday.

At least 450 cylinders were recovered from the warehouse of the agency, RK Avenue, an authorised dealer of Indane, the LPG brand of Indian Oil Corporation.

Six persons, including the driver of a truck parked at the warehouse, were taken into custody for interrogation. The empty cylinders were found to be stored at the agency’s Jakariagali godown in addition to those of bona fide customers.

Economic offences unit inspector-general Praveen Vashishta said their department, formed recently, had received several complaints about sale of refilled cylinders at exorbitant rates in the Patna City area. “Some persons have been detained for interrogation,” he added.

Vashishta, however, refused to divulge details on the pretext that it would hamper investigation.

Sources said the agency used to refill empty cylinders from a bottling plant in Jharkhand and sell them in the black market after those were back to its godown.

Preliminary investigation revealed that each cylinder was sold for anything between Rs 2,000 and Rs 2,200 depending on the demand of refilled cylinders. “The recent hike in prices of LPG cylinders has led to a crisis in the state capital while such gas dealers are minting money from the customers illegally,” he added.

The officer said the empty cylinders were mostly meant for those customers, who neither had consumer cards nor require regular cylinders anymore. The empty cylinders were booked and refilled in the name of bona fide customers but they were sold in the open at high prices, he revealed.

Additional director-general (headquarters) Ravinder Kumar said the police officers were trying to find the origin of the racket. Kumar said an FIR had been lodged against the gas agency owner, Vinod Kumar Singh, at economic offences unit police station.