BHOPAL: Obscure roadside dhabas in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are serving as ideal storage houses for a national racket engaged in pilferage and adulteration of chemicals imported into India from abroad.
The racket comprises operators of nondescript chemical units in Indore and adjoining areas of Madhya Pradesh, besides tanker and truck drivers working for Navi Mumbai-based chemical importers. It is being run by a group of people residing in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency, Varanasi.
A vital link of the racket (daily earning hundreds of crores) was busted last week by the special task force of MP police in Indore with the arrest of a pick-up vehicle driver Darbar Singh Rajput and Lenesh Borana, the owner of small chemical units in the state’s Ratlam and Indore districts.
The action by the STF team led to seizure of nine drums of imported chemicals, including Ethylene, Hydrogen and Glycerol worth over `27 lakh.
An MP STF officer said that ships bearing lakhs of tonnes of imported chemicals meant for supply to chemical and allied products manufacturing units daily arrive at Mumbai port. The chemicals are subsequently transported to big import units in Navi Mumbai and adjacent industrial areas. From there tankers carry the chemicals to industrial customers across India.
“Once these tankers leave Mumbai, the chemical pilferage and adulteration racket starts. The drivers of the tankers of imported chemical (each drum worth `3 lakh to `5 lakh) are paid `5,000 to `10,000 per drum after they park at roadside dhabas in Maharashtra and MP,” said an STF source.
The racket operators steal 10-20 per cent of chemical from the drums and mix the remaining chemical with water. The stolen chemical is subsequently stashed at rented safe houses near the dhabas to be supplied later to select customers at 8-10 times profit.
“Investigations have revealed that the racket is supplying the stolen imported chemicals to paint and cosmetic units manufacturing pirated or spurious versions of the branded products in the country,” said the STF officer in Indore.