Few pumps, but petrol in bottles

Bangalore City

With complete disregard for rules, petrol is being illegally sold on roadsides in the outskirts of the city. 

Despite laws being in place, the trade of illegal fuel in Kumbalgodu, Golahalli, Devgere and Manchanbele has spread its roots. Vendors can be seen selling fuel in plastic bottles from their retail shops. Bhaskaran,a delivery agent, regularly buys petrol in a plastic bottle. He said, “As this region is too far from the city, there are fewer fuel stations nearby. In emergencies, when my scooty runs out of fuel, I purchase it from these vendors.

 “This is a very common practice all over India, nothing is new about it. Without accessible petrol pumps, people will be involved in these activities,” he added.

Two petrol stations function within three kilometeres of these places. There are nearly seven to eight vendors who sell illegal petrol in plastic bottles. These shops are located within five-kilometre radius of Kumbalgodu police station. The vendors in Devgere and Golahhali sell a one-litre bottle of petrol for Rs. 120. Ramappa B Gutter, Police Inspector, Kaggalipura police station, the jurisdictional police station for these places, stated that they are not aware of any unlawful petrol or diesel sales. “If somebody brings over a documented complaint naming the vendors, we are ready to take action and raid these unlawful sellers,” he said.

M. Suresh, one of the vendors said, “We generally charge Rs.10-15 extra on current petrol price as our commission. The fuel stations are too far from this village. Therefore, people purchase these petrol bottles in emergencies.” The vendor said he is not aware of any law or any ban on petrol sale in plastic bottles. 

The Petroleum Act of 1934 says, selling and storing petrol without a valid licence is  a punishable offence. Glass, stoneware, or metal containers should be used to store the fuel. It is also prohibited to store more than 30 litres of petrol without a license.

Advocate Vinaypratap Singh said, “Storage and sale of petrol without license is a non-cognizable offence. The bail can be granted regarding this offence and the punishment is no more than three years in jail.”

Dr. Amit Kumar, a Petroleum Engineer says, “If you put petrol in a plastic bottle that isn’t built to retain harsh products, the petrol will chew through the plastic in a short period of time. It would not only be a disaster and a mess, but it would also be extremely dangerous with petrol on the floor. It has the potential to leak and catch fire. This is why it’s critical to use containers designed for specific uses.”