Govt to re-introduce chemical marker in kerosene in six months

New Delhi, Jan 27 (PTI) Two days after a local oilmafia in Maharashtra burnt alive an additional collector, thegovernment today unveiled steps including re-introduction of achemical marker in kerosene to reduce opportunities of thesubsidised fuel being diverted for adulteration.

"We learnt with shock about the heinous killing ofAdditional Collector Yashwant Sonawane (who was set on fire bythe oil mafia in Manmad on January 24 while attempting to stopdiversion of PDS kerosene). He died a martyr to the cause ofanti-adulteration drive," Petroleum Minister S Jaipal Reddytold a news conference here.

Announcing an ex-gratia of Rs 25 lakh to the family ofSonawane, he said the responsibility of distribution ofsubsidised kerosene through the Public Distribution System(PDS) rests with state governments and it was their duty tosee that subsidised fuel is not diverted for adulteration.

A litre of kerosene costs Rs 12.32 a litre whilediesel is priced at Rs 37.75 a litre. The huge differencemakes it lucrative for diverting kerosene for mixing indiesel.

An estimated 40 to 60 per cent of the 9.5 million tonsof kerosene Centre annually allocates to states is divertedonce it leaves the oil company depots.

"This incident has once again highlighted the problemof kerosene being used for adulteration. There is a need torespond to the problem in systematic term," Reddy said.

Reddy said an improved chemical marker will be dopedin kerosene to make its mixing with diesel near impossible.

"The kerosene marker system (which was withdrawn in2009) will be reintroduced in the next six months," he said.

The government had in 2006 introduced a dye sourcedfrom US firm Authentix in kerosene but withdrew it in 2009pending toxology tests.

Also, Reddy suggested that the states use GPS-basedvehicular tracking system like the one being used for vehiclestransporting petrol and diesel to track the movement, anyroute deviations being taken or long stoppages.

"It is an effective tool in warding off incidences ofpilferage and diversion leading to adulteration which maytaken place during the period of untracked transportation," hesaid, adding oil companies would provide technological andinstitutional support to the state governments for installingGPS on tank trucks transporting kerosene.

Besides, oil companies will provide online real-timeinformation on loading of kerosene trucks, quantity and timeof departure from their depots so that state authorities cancheck any route diversion, he said.

Once kerosene trucks leave oil company depots, theymake unscheduled stoppages where the fuel is pilfered and whatstate civil supplies department receive is much less and oftendiluted quantities of kerosene. (More) PTI ANZ

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