After cases were registered against buses and goods carriers transporting or using adulterated fuel in Palakkad and Kozhikode, the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) has demanded formation of teams to conduct random checking of vehicles in all districts.
The need of the hour is to take such concrete action on what is seen as increasing dependence on adulterants due to exorbitant prices of diesel and petrol. Solvents such as benzene and naphta, which are carcinogenic, often used as adulterants in fuel, were linked to random checks at fuel outlets in the state, a senior official of an oil company said.
“Till a few years back, kerosene and paraffin wax were used as adulterants. There are organized gangs that bind fossil fuels to various solvents in such a ratio that they achieve a density similar to that of petrol or diesel in their pure form. Similar solvents that were imported were used to adulterate fuels, despite adverse effects on public health and safety and life of vehicles,” he said.
To keep an eye on vehicles running on adulterated fuel, MVD personnel have demanded formation of teams of officials from the department, police, pollution control board, legal metrology department and oil companies. Regional Transport Officer (Enforcement, Ernakulam) G. Ananthakrishnan had recently written to the Additional District Magistrate (ADM) demanding formation of such a team for joint inspection.
“It is important to maintain vigil in Ernakulam, as many such widely misused compounds or solutions are manufactured in bulk in the district, mainly for industrial use. The joint inspection is all the more important, as MVD personnel are empowered to charge a maximum fine of ₹250 just for operating a vehicle that uses adulterated fuel. The offense is compoundable with such minimum fine as per the Motor Vehicles Act. But as per the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act, a police officer of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police or above can register a case and refer it to the court. It will help if personnel from agencies having technical expertise are involved in random inspections,” the official said.
On diesel samples collected from three private buses in Palakkad a month ago, Jayesh Kumar MK, Enforcement RTO (Palakkad) said the buses belonged to different people. “Their fuel samples were collected on the basis of a tip-off. Police have registered a case and samples have been sent for testing. If the test results for adulterants are positive, the owners can be charged under the non-bailable provisions of the Essential Commodities Act,” he said.
A senior official of an oil company said dependence on adulterated fuel is a dangerous trend. “Our squad, which collects samples from retail outlets, is ready to help the district administration to put an end to this practice. On its part, the state government should make optimum use of the mobile sample testing laboratory entrusted by the oil companies, to maintain vigil against unscrupulous operators,” he said.