Unable to afford high storage rent at docks, police release seized oil
Yellow Gate police jumped many hurdles to nail a batch of oil they suspected was smuggled, but had to release it after the state forensic lab said it would take three to six months to run tests to see if the oil was adulterated
After the Yellow Gate police did a great job of busting an allegedly illegal oil consignment, an overworked, under-resourced and sloth-paced apparatus rained on their parade, forcing them to let go of the catch. The police had to release 3 lakh litres of shady oil seized from the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) after the state’s Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) at Kalina said it would require three to six months to ascertain whether the samples were adulterated.
Paying the rent to store the oil at the city’s pricey docks for, possibly, half a year is beyond the means of the police, and since they cannot register an FIR until the tests come out, the seizure was more or less in vain. So they handed the consignment back to the person in charge of it. Cops said the oil, which is dangerous and adulterated, can easily be distributed in the market.
A failed foray
Acting on a tip-off, the police on November 26, decided to raid the MbPT, but the officials were barred from entering the high-security premises manned by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and other agencies. “We were highly suspicious as it was the eve of 26/11. Only after additional commissioner of police (south region) Krishna Prakash reached the spot and spoke to the CISF officials did we gain entry. But that was almost two hours later and precious time had been lost. By the time we reached, the dealers had adulterated the oil and declared it sludge oil.”
The police managed to seize 13 oil tankers and two buses in which oil was kept. Cops said they took one person, who is the son of an illegal oil trader based in the city, in custody. The cops then sent the oil samples to the FSL to find out if it was flammable, hazardous or adulterated. But the Kalina FSL director Dr M K Malve said, “In such case it takes a minimum of three months to complete the test and make a report.” The Yellow Gate police urged the FSL to hurry, but the lab remained firm on its earlier pace.
“If we continue to pay rent to store the oil at the docks, we would have to sell this police station. So high is the rent for the Mumbai docks,” a police officer said. So, on Friday, the whole consignment was released back to the person who was detained on bond. Police inspector Ramesh Khade said, “We have released the oil to the dealer on bond. We have taken all necessary documents and statements of the people concerned.”
DCP (port zone) Tanaji Gadge said, “We followed the procedure, and the consignment was released in front of rationing officials. The lab report may even take six months. If it is positive, we would book him under the relevant sections.” Asked what if the oil was distributed in the market illegally before the report arrived, he said, “We may add the necessary sections and take action on him if the tests are positive.”
A police source said it was difficult for the cops to rein in the mafia operating inside the port. And when an action is taken, such issues crop up. Many insiders are involved in the racket, said the source, adding that the dealer in question had several refineries, and the consignment was taken to the one at Wada near Bhiwandi.
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