Recent media reports about a racket of using electronic implants in petrol bunks has taken fuel consumers by surprise. The fact that they may receive 10-15% less fuel for the price that they pay for the entire volume has come as a rude shock for those who do not think twice before paying the bill. In fact, the short-change can sum up to a humungous amount of Rs 250 crore annually. 

Consider this. According to a data released by the oil ministry, close to 3.5 crore consumers buy petrol and diesel worth Rs 2,500 crore a year from 59,595 different  petrol pumps of state-run fuel retailers. Keeping this in view, the special task force in Uttar Pradesh raided 7 petrol bunks in Uttar Pradesh and found they were bugged to manipulate fuel deliveries. This meant that while the customers paid for the quantity of petrol they wanted, they were given 10-15% less. 

The STF has now set up a team to probe the matter.While five more petrol bunks were raided in the Moradabad area, engineers and bug installers were arrested. Even while the STF is being congratulated by the Centre for its pro-active action, the incident gives rise to many more challenges. Firstly, oil marketeers are facing a huge setback trust wise since they supported the replacement of the mechanical dispensers with that of the electronic ones to check under delivery. 

Under-delivery of fuel was a problem of the past, at least that was what the public believed till the advent of the electronic machines. Although, the latter posed a different challenge of adulteration in fuel and various problems rising out of it, under-delivery was ruled out from the book of concerns until the raid happened in UP. 

One of the dealers said, "There is need to increase the security of the dispensing machines, perhaps through better encryption and other measures. Fuel quantity in a tanker is still measured with a dip-stick before decanting into pump's storage."