CHANDIGARH: Due to rampant smuggling of petrol and diesel which is taking place in Punjab from the neighbouring states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh the state government is losing approximately Rs 700 crore per year.
Sources said that the people connected with the oil mafia purchase petrol pumps in neighbouring states of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir and Chandigarh either on their names or no names of their associates.
The price difference ranges from Rs 2 to Rs 4 per litre in diesel and Rs 6 to 10 per litre in petrol which is a big attraction for mafia to indulge in cross border selling. The mafia mainly caters to big industrial houses, bulk transports and farmers, who are the main consumers of diesel.
As far as petrol is concerned it is mainly sold in rural areas. The modus operandi is that for bulk consumers they supply full tankers loads of 12,000 litres directly to the consumers either from their pumps in other states or directly from the oil depots by passing protocol of supply of products from the depot to petrol pumps only.
For retail consumers, they have hired or purchased small tankers known as 'Bowzer' with the capacity of around 2,500 litres and these tankers are fitted with sophisticated delivery units with nozzles and totalizer meters. These tankers move from one place to another and supply directly to end users (home delivery), said sources.
Chairman of VAT Advisory Committee of Petrol Pump Dealers Association of Punjab, Ashwinder Singh Mongia said, "Due to the difference in prices of Petrol and Diesel between Punjab and neighbouring states oil mafia is actively doing smuggling which will result in loss of Rs 700 Crores to the state per annum."
"Punjab has lost 175 Crores (3 per cent) of revenue collections in 2017-18 whereas other states have grown by 9 to 20 per cent during the same period. This is attributed to shifting of business, loss of sale and rampant smuggling. The VAT collections in Punjab have reduced by approximately Rs 50 crore in November 2018 and are likely to reduce further in the coming months," he added.
"About 1600 petrol pumps situated on both the national and state highways and the border districts are badly affected. The worst affected areas are Mohali and Ropar districts where the sales have dropped by 50 to 70 per cent. A well-organized oil mafia which is already operating will thrive on rate difference and there will be at least 50 per cent dip in legitimate sale of diesel and 15 per cent dip in sale of Petrol,'' he said.
Shaleen Walia, Assistant Commissioner of Excise and Taxation (Mobile Wing), Chandigarh said, "in December, 2018 we seized an oil tanker containing 2,500 litres of diesel which was being smuggled into Punjab from Chandigarh. A case was registered and two people were arrested. Due to difference in petrol and diesel prices in Chandigarh and Punjab there are complaints of fuel smuggling. We informed the oil companies about this smuggling by oil mafia but they are not willing to act on the petroleum dealers who are indulging in such an activity.''
Sources said that earlier also such a tanker was caught by the petroleum dealers in Mohali and police registered a case, but as the illegal tanker belonged to an influential person later a compromise was struck.