Manmad, hub of oil adulteration

Nashik (Mah), Jan 29 (PTI) The killing of AdditionalDistrict Collector Yashwant Sonawane has suddenly thrown thetown of Manmad into national spotlight, from where diesel andpetrol leaving the huge depots in tankers has long beenpilfered and adulterated, making it Maharashtra''s oiladulteration hub.

Both Bharat Petroleum and Indian Oil Corporation havelarge depots in Manmad close to Panewadi, where Sonawane wasburnt to death by suspected members of the oil mafia onJanuary 25. Panewadi depots supply oil to at least 12districts in the state.

Manmad, which is 75 kms from here, was connected with theAdditional Collector and the district supply office but sincepast two years its jurisdiction went to Additional Collectorat Malegaon, where Maharashtra cadre officer Yashwant Sonawanewas posted, also since past two years.

Earlier efforts to check adulteration in petrol, dieseland kerosene by revenue officers met with failure due toblessings of political leaders and bureaucrats to oil mafia.

Popat Dattu Shinde, prime accused in Sonawane''s murder,has ten cases of adulteration pending against him since 2001and was externed from Manmad by then Malegaon''s Sub DivisionalMagistrate Devidas Choudhari on July 31, 2006 for a year.

Shinde, who apparently enjoyed political patronagechallenged his externment order by approaching the StateSecretariat. Following ''good character'' certificates issued bythen Manmad municipal councillors-- Sanjay Nikam, SanjayBhalerao, Pournima Jadhav-- and RPI President RajabhauAhire, his order was terminated by the Secretariat.

In 2002, then Additional Collector B D Sanap seizednine tankers cracking down on the oil mafia in the areabut he received a life threat from Shinde, who had strongpolitical connections. Shinde began as a Vada pav seller inManmad and shifted to the adulteration racket, Sanap, nowNashik Municipal Commissioner, told reporters. .

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