As spurious petrol sales pick up, the civil supplies department feigns ignorance
It’s a sunny day, you’re driving in the midst of heavy traffic when you suddenly run out of fuel. There is no petrol bunk in sight and you’re terribly late. Just as you’re reaching the end of your tether you spot a man selling petrol in bottles by the side of the road. It’s the perfect stopgap solution, but at the same time you know that this is illegal. Although you are unsure of the quality of the petrol, you are forced to go with what is available.
Drive past any busy stretch of road and you’re bound to come across vendors selling petrol in bottles. In fact, this illegal sale of petrol is highest in the ‘upmarket’ Banjara Hills and Jubilee Hills areas. Be it Banjara Hills Road no 1 to 14, Jubilee check post or the road connecting Hitech City and Kondapur, the streets are dotted with vendors selling spurious petrol.
Incidentally, these vendors are supplied fuel by petrol bunks in the City. “Most of the times we get the petrol from the petrol dealers in the City and sometimes from the government vehicle drivers too. They charge us around `50 to `60 per litre and we sell the same for `70 or more. The price also depends upon the situation. For instance, during the petrol strike the rate went up to `140 to `180 per litre,” said Yadaiah, a vendor in Banjara Hills.
Despite the high prices, business is brisk, considering these areas have few petrol bunks in the immediate vicinity. “We sell nearly around 20 to 25 litres of petrol each day. Business is better on weekdays and most of our customers are office goers. During strikes we sell around 70 to 80 litres of petrol,” said Govind Raju, another petrol vendor.
Surprisingly, despite this open sale of spurious fuel, the practice goes unchecked by the Civil Supplies Department. “We have not received any complaints so far and most of the times these people go unchecked because of the reasons they cite. Their most common refrain is that they aren’t petrol vendors but employees at petrol bunks. According to them they sell petrol only when they get a call from customers who run out of fuel. Now that the matter has been brought to our notice, we shall look into it,” said Harpreet Singh, commissioner, Civil Supplies.