A massive racket has been unearthed. Call it Petrol pump chip scam. Several petrol pumps in Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow were found guilty of tampering with fuel calibration by manipulating the fuel dispensing machines through remote-controlled electronic chips.
The electronic chip, which costs a paltry Rs 3,000, is designed to control the outflow of fuel. As a result the customers get 10 to 15 per cent less fuel on every litre purchased.
The scam has evoked strong reactions from the consumers.
These petrol pumps were making a fraud of Rs 14 lakh a month by duping the customers, a senior police officer of UP STF was quoted as saying in this report. There are 6,000 petrol stations across the state. The scam could run into a whopping Rs 100 crore.
The Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) has raided on 11 petrol pumps. Of these, nine were found stealing 50 ml of fuel in every litre dispensed to customers. While six belong to Bharat Petroleum, three are IndianOil petrol pumps.
More interestingly, according to reports, during the raids in the past few days, the UP STF has come across dozens of “abandoned” pumps. Even the STF team found evidence of chips removed in a hurry before the raid.
So far seven petrol pumps have been sealed and 23 persons have been arrested in connection to the fraud.
The scam came to the light following the arrest of an electric technician who confessed to installing the “cheat chip” at hundreds of petrol pumps across Uttar Pradesh and beyond.
Uttar Pradesh director general of police Sulkhan Singh has constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the multi-crore scam. Singh also issued an advisory to all district magistrates and superintendents of police across the state, asking them to form teams to conduct raids on petrol pumps across the state.
The genesis of the petrol pump fraud goes back to the days of the previous Samajwadi Party government led by Akhilesh Yadav. Reports suggest that the scam could extend beyond UP. Uttar Pradesh STF suspects that the mastermind of the racket is a New Delhi-based gang.
The Centre has immediately swung into action. Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan has ordered inspection of all petrol pumps in Uttar Pradesh and random checks elsewhere to detect the short delivery of fuel.
Emphasising that “consumer interest” is the paramount of the Modi government, Pradhan has promised strict action against those found guilty.
“We have initiated action against respective field officers. The strictest possible action will be taken against guilty petrol pumps, including termination of licence,” the Oil Minister told reporters in New Delhi.