P Ramar Pillai, a school drop out hailing from a village near Rajapalayam in Virudhunagar district in Tamil Nadu shot to fame in 1996, when he claimed that he had invented an entirely herbal fuel that did not use any petro-chemicals. Twenty years after he first began selling his ‘herbal fuel’ a CBI Court has finally convicted him for fraud.
On October 13, Pillai was convicted by the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, of Egmore, along with his associates, R Venudevi, S Chinnasamy, R Rajasegaran and SK Bharat, and sentenced to three years Rigorous Imprisonment each, with a total fine of Rs.30,000 for cheating.
Ramar Pillai had claimed in 1996 that his special blend of secret herbs, when boiled together with some common ingredients like salt and citric acid for about 30 minutes, produced a fuel-like substance.
An old pic of Pillai
Overnight, Pillai became a much-celebrated public figure, for 'solving' the intractable fuel shortage problem. Not only was Pillai sought after by the media, but he even gained audiences with political figures like then TN Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. He even claimed that the process had been demonstrated at top scientific labs in the country he claimed.
Soon, Pillai, according to a report, began selling the herbal fuel under the brand names Ramar Bio-fuel, Ramar Tamil Devi Mooligai Eriporul, and Ramar Petrol.
From Ramar Pillai FB page
However, skeptical voices began to emerge, announcing that Pillai was actually adding hydrocarbons to his herbal mixture to make it function as a fuel. Finally, the CBI registered a suo motu case against Pillai for fraud.
After a raid at Ramar Pillai’s godown in Chennai, the then CBI Joint Director, D Mukherjee had said that Pillai, “in conspiracy with unknown public servants of oil refineries and oil distributing companies was getting supply of petroleum products like benzene, toulene etc, which are utilised for purposes other than as a fuel. These chemicals with the additives were being sold as herbal petrol”.
One arrest by the CBI, however, could not deter Ramar Pillai. In 2010 he called a press conference in Chennai to announce that he had invented a different fuel. The new bio-fuel was created by mixing water with his secret herb mix and heating it to 78 degrees Celsius. He called it the Velar Bio-Hydrocarbon Fuel.
A CBI press release on the case said:
“The case is that during the period 1999 & 2000, Shri Ramar Pillar colluded with other private persons to do illegal act mixing Petroleum products like Toluene, Naphtha etc., and to market the same in the name of “Ramar Petrol, or “ Ramar Tamildevi Mooligai Eriporul” etc., as if it were extracted from herbs. The same was fraudulently to be used as Automobile fuel from herbs, which did not match the ISI standard. The said “Herbal fuel” was only a mixture of Petroleum Products which was prohibited vide clause 3(V) of the Motor Spirit Speed Diesel (Regulation of Supply and Distribution and Prevention of Malpractices) Order, 1988. Ramar Pillai misrepresented the said facts and sold the same as “Herbal fuel” to the public through various Sales Outlet Owners whom also he cheated by collecting huge amounts as deposits and fuel costs. Thus Ramar Pillai and his associates gained Rs 2.27 crores for themselves, by cheating public.”