The Maharashtra government Wednesday said it would act against oil and gas companies in cases where their authorised petrol pump dealers were caught short-changing consumers. The measure was in response to the uncovering of a nationwide racket where unscrupulous dealers were found stealing petrol and diesel by manipulating fuel dispensing machines through electronic chips.
In June, a state government drive had revealed that the nexus was rampant across petrol pumps in Maharashtra as well. Besides action against the errant dealers and officials, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Girish Bapat on Wednesday said that the government would initiate legal action against oil companies too. The government had earlier appointed a review committee under Controller of Legal Metrology Amitabh Gupta for an action plan to check such frauds.
As part of the annual testing and stamping of fuel dispensing units, the department’s Legal Metrology Organisation has made submission of disclosure reports regarding the software and hardware component of such units mandatory. Bapat said that authorised representatives of the oil companies would now have to certify this information, along with the petrol pump dealer, and the unit manufacturer. “The oil company will also be held responsible for manipulation of such units through remote controlled chips or cheating of the consumers,” Bapat said.
The minister also said the government has decided to replace the metallic jars used for testing and verification purposes at the petrol pumps with glass jars, to avoid tampering complaints.
Meanwhile, the All India Petrol Dealers Association (AIPDA) has welcomed the announcement made by Bapat. “AIPDA wants to clarify that the national association is not formed to shelter dealers for their wrongdoings and will never encourage any dealer who indulges in short-changing innocent customers. At the same time, AIPDA appeals to the minister not to harass any innocent pump owner at the same time,” said
Ali Daruwalla, spokesperson of AIPDA in a press release.