Six police officers in Hyderabad, including an officer from Special Operations Team (SOT), was suspended for their alleged role in a fuel pilferage racket in the city. The officers belonging to the Rachakonda Commissionerate are accused of allegedly accepting a bribe.
It was on May 18 that the Medipally police arrested six persons for stealing diesel from the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) and BPCL tankers at IDA Cherlapally. The officials managed to seize Rs 13.8 lakh worth of diesel and other materials, reported Telangana Today.
K Suresh Reddy, N Sirin Babu, M Chinna Reddy, P Venkatesh, Mohammad Salauddin (alias Salvaduddin) and M Subash were those arrested, while one person, B Upender, was absconding. The gang used to steal diesel from IOCL transport vehicles when the trucks would visit their diesel stations at industrial development area Cherlapally.
Upon questioning, one of the accused confessed to bribing officials, reported the Times of India.
The Racahkonda police were unavailable for comment.
It was in January 2018 that a tanker carrying 20,000 litres of petrol exploded at Medipally village, killing one and injuring 19 persons. Two persons were arrested for tampering with the seal of the oil tanker. The duo was allegedly involved with the pilferage of petrol and diesel for close to 10 years.
The explosion took place when the gang tried to fix a seal broken to draw the fuel, after transferring it to drums or another tanker.
Amarender Reddy, president of the Telangana Petroleum Dealers Association, said the pilferage is rampant and that the thieves come up with innovative ways to tamper with the seals of the tank. "There are a lot of small auto spare parts and repair shops dotting along Nacharam. The driver will claim repairs and take the truck loaded with fuel to these shops. It is a dangerous business, which often involves using welding machines on a 20,000-litre tanker of petrol or diesel,â€ť he said.
The offence continues despite several complaints to the police and also to the Oil companies who operate the trucks. Presently, oil companies compensate the dealers for the loss in quantity due to pilferage, but that is only on paper, said Amarendar. "The compensation never comes. Itâ€™s the oil companies who have to ensure that the seals are well in place before they leave the fueling yards. The quality checks should be enforced by them," he added.
The oil companies are also the ones who own the trucks through their subcontractors. â€śCurrently, if a truck is caught pilfering the oil companies, the truck does not get blacklisted,â€ť he said, adding, â€śSuch practices cannot take place without the knowledge of the truck owner. So if a truck owner has 20 trucks and even if one of his vehicles get caught in the act of pilferage, all the trucks must be blacklisted.â€ť