The Deccan Herald today has an article about the adulteration of petrol in Bangalore.
In the last one year, the IOC and BPCL closed down four petrol bunks in and around Bangalore, on charges of adulteration. According to Samson Chacko, Chief Retail Manager of IOC, Classic Auto Services (Bannerghatta Road), Unity Service Station (Okalipuram) and Jai Bharath Service Station (Ramanagara) were closed down on charges of selling adulterated fuel. Chacko said two other petrol bunks in the City were under the scanner over other “irregularities”.
The HPCL, on the other hand, had closed down three petrol bunks in Karnataka, including one at Bangalore. Sources in HPCL, requesting anonymity, said,“Action has been initiated against a petrol bunk on Bannerghatta Road, a petrol service station at Yelwal in Mysore and one at Tumkur.”
The problem is compounded by the fact that the regulatory department does not have a lab to test the fuel.
“We are either dependent on the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) of the Police Department or the laboratory of public sector oil companies in Devanagundi,” he said.
Testing issues: FSL does not have modern equipment to test for fuel adulteration. If it sends a fuel sample to the Devanagundi laboratory, it has to give the complete address of the petrol bunk from where the sample was extracted.
A senior officer of the Food and Civil Supplies Department said, requesting anonymity, if details of the petrol bunk were furnished with the sample, it gave room for corruption. Lab authorities could contact the petrol bunk owners and strike a deal.
So how can we find out if the petrol is pure or not?
Hafeez pointed out that the customers themselves can check the petrol’s density by using hygrometers kept in the fuel stations.
Customers can demand the petrol-testing chart, issued by the oil companies. The chart displays what should be the density of petrol at a particular temperature. “If the temperature outside is 30 degree celsius, the petrol should touch a certain scale in the hygrometer. If it is not near the scale, there is adulteration,” said Hafeez. Public sector oil companies too have asked customers to complain if they suspect adulteration.
I don’t recall seeing hygrometers at petrol stations but I’ve never been aware that they were available. I’ve also not noticed problems with the petrol filled at stations in that my vehicle has not caused problems. I wonder if the smart people at institutes like IISc. can come up with a test that’s really simple and inexpensive–that would make the problem of adulteration a whole lot harder.