Petrol black markets go deeper underground

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IMPHAL Nov 16 : Long after the economic blockade by ANSAM and the UNC along both national highways connecting the state with the rest of the country has concluded the price of fuel and other essential commodities continues to rise uncontrolled.
The situation is still dismal with no improvement in fuel distribution.

Mile long queues can still be seen at various petrol stations and consumers have to camp overnight at these stations in the hope they would get to fill the tanks of their vehicles.

The black market which sold petrol openly at various outlets have closed down following the crackdown by the police on the instructions of Union Home Secretary GK Pillai who had visited the state earlier to take stock of the prevailing situation.
Pillai had also promised that fuel distribution in the pumps will resume normally after a week but this promise too is proving to be at best empty if not an eyewash.

An investigation by IFP revealed that petrol and diesel is still available at the black market but the modus operandi of sell the commodities has changed.

Before the police crackdown, vendors openly displayed their wares and sold petrol at Rs 75/80 per liter, now the same shops have ceased to transact business openly and conducts sales through the back door to known clients mostly.

The price has also gone upto Rs 100 per liter following the closed sale.
In a tipoff, a petrol vendor on grounds of anonymity told IFP that most of the fuel is still supplied by “security personnel” or else by pilferaging from petrol pumps by “connected persons”.

It may be mentioned that a fire had broken out at 2nd MR in September was due to the stockpiling of fuel at the residential quarters and many security personnel clearly implicating them in the black marketing business.

The main dealers of fuel in the black market who have underground tanks to stock a large quantity of fuel are mostly located at Mantripukhri, Khurkhul and Sekmai, sources said.

It is alleged that cops collect “taxes” as protection money from the big dealers.

The adulteration of petrol mainly takes place at these ‘depots’.

First the blue colour of kerosene is removed by adding a chemical catalyst ,the next step is to add 50% kerosene and 50% colourless petrol brought from Mayanmar at around Rs35 per litre which is still brought to the state in large quantities through the border town of Moreh.

A golden yellow wood enamel is then added to the ‘mixture’ to make it resemble the colour of petrol and finally some petrol is added for the smell.

The ‘mixture’ before adding petrol is sold roundabout Rs30/ 40 per liter from time to time and it is up to the retail petrol agent to add as much petrol as desired.

In times of scarcity, very less petrol is added to maximize the profits, which results in engine problems of the vehicle of the consumer. The illegal practice is also adopted by the major petrol outlets of the state including the PCTC petrol pump located at Khuyathong. It may further be mentioned that there has been instances when customers quequeing up for fuel had been sold blue petrol by the particular pump as reported earlier by IFP.

Tell tale signs are thick smokes coming from the exhaust pipe and engine starting problems.

The profit ratio is nearly 50% or more sometimes when petrol which cost normally around Rs 50 is sold at a hundred and above.

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