Suspecting malpractice on the part of a local petrol pump in Navi Mumbai, a group of alert citizens on Monday took it upon themselves to investigate their suspicions and unearthed a major scam that could potentially run into crores.
Around 9:30 am, Manoj Kadam arrived at Universal Automobiles, an authorized dealer of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) to fill petrol in his bike. Like thousands others in the area, the pump, located at Sector 13 near D-Mart, is his defacto choice for filling fuel.
After waiting for his turn, Kadam asked the attendant to fill his bike’s tank to the brim. The attendant asked Kadam if the bike can take fuel of Rs 500 or Rs 1000, but he simply responded by asking the staffer to fill as much as it could take.
Mere seconds after the fueling process had began, he asked the attendant to stop. By the time the flow was stopped, the meter showed that the bike had been filled with petrol worth Rs 164.
To confirm his suspicion, Kadam asked the attendant to get him an empty bottle. However, instead of complying, the attendant tried to dissuade him from measuring the fuel quantity. But Kadam remained adamant and asked the attendant to hand over a bottle.
By this time, around 7-8 bikers had gathered around Kadam and wanted to see the results for themselves. Among them was Surendra Purohit, a local who had similar suspicions about the pump.
“After Kadam insisted on measuring the fuel, the attendant disappeared for a minute. When he returned, he told other staffers that he had enough and wanted to quit. But we all made sure that he couldn’t leave. We also managed to get another bottle on our own, in which we emptied the entire tank,” Purohit told Local Press Co.
By this time, another attendant offered to fill Kadam’s bike tank for free. But he refused and moved to empty the tank.
“To our surprise, even after the tank was completely drained of petrol, the one litre bottle was only 3/4 full. That meant there was only 700 to 800 ml of petrol, worth around Rs 50 to 60, in the bike’s tank. Even if we assume Kadam arrived at the pump with almost no fuel, he should have had more than 2 litres worth of petrol for Rs 164” he added.
Purohit, who works with a bank, then called Kopar Khairana police station and alerted them about the incident.
The station quickly dispatched two officials, who arrived at the spot and asked everyone, including Kadam and Purohit, to accompany them to D-Mart Police Chowky. The pump’s manager, Kishor (Babubhai), also arrived at the chowky after them.
The on-duty official made a note of the complaint and asked everyone to come to Kopar Khairane Police Station in Sector 6, where an inspector asked them to hand over a written copy of the complaint.
At the time, the manager told cops that the attendant might have filled less fuel on purpose due to ongoing issues with the management over wages. The motorists, however, refused to budge.
The officer acknowledged the complaint copy with a stamp and assured motorists about forwarding it to BPCL. The copy mentioned Kadam as the complainant and four others, including Purohit as witnesses.
A request for statement was made to BPCL on Monday night, but an official response is awaited as of writing this. Attempts at reaching the pump’s management were also in vain.
Although illegal, pump owners have often resorted to tampering fuel-dispensing machines, which results in lower fuel delivery while displaying the required or higher fuel supply.
Since oil companies are primarily responsible for delivery of fuel and re-calibration of dispensing units, it is up to the State Legal Metrology Department to pull up faulty operators and take action against them.
If the department finds discrepancies in sale of fuel, it may order the outlet to cease operations.
After alerting officials, Kadam recorded his experience in the form of a video on his smartphone. The post containing his video was shared by Purohit late Monday night. It is currently going viral on both Facebook and Twitter.
Update (Feb 28):
Statement from Prashant Katware, CPIO BPCL (Maharashtra & Goa), “We have advised our Thane Territory Team to investigate the matter and shall update you on the outcome after the investigation.”
Despite multiple attempts at reaching senior officers of Kopar Khairane station, including Senior Police Inspector
Satish Gaikwad, an official statement about the incident could not be obtained.