Petrol pumps may be robbing you blind

Hyderabad, October 31: For consumers whose attitude towards filling up fuel at various bunks is ‘Fill it, shut it, forget it’, they better watch out.

Meters of petrol dispensers in several parts of the Twin Cities have been tampered with. So if you feel that your bike or car is just not living up to its promised mileage, perhaps a trip to the Legal Metrology Department would stand you in good stead.

A recent study by the Controller of Legal Metrology on ‘Ways and Means to prevent fraudulent practises in digital types of dispensing pumps’ revealed that most of the petrol filling station managements are manipulating meters.

The Legal Metrology Department booked 400 cases under the standards of Weights and Measures (Enforcement) Act 1985 across the State as they involved manipulating consumers upto September during 2009-10.

S A Huda, Additional Director General of Police, Controller of Legal Metrology Department told Expresso that the department had booked more than 400 cases in the State as the department received complaints from consumers.

“In Hyderabad district, we booked at least 21 cases while 24 cases were registered in Ranga Reddy district up to September. Kakinada town stood first in meter tampering by petrol filling station managements with 51 cases while Nellore is in a safe zone registering only four cases,” Huda says.

He said that despite fewer cases in Hyderabad this year, there is information that most petrol pumps in Hyderabad and RR district are dispensing lesser fuel.

Huda says that in several instances, even when consumers identify manipulation by the filling staff, they prefer to argue with them rather than complain to the concerned department.

In Hyderabad district, there are 264 petrol filing stations while Ranga Reddy district has 292.

When Expresso went to a petrol bunk situated at Hyderguda with an empty bottle, the youth there was reluctant. This petrol bunk is near the office of City Police Commissioner. The youth explained that the management of the filling station had ordered him to fill petrol only in vehicles.

At the Hindustan Petroleum (HP) filling station, located near Radhika theatre at Kacheguda in the city, the same rule is followed.

“Whenever I want to fill petrol in a bottle to store in my autorickshaw, the petrol pump attenders refuse. I don’t know understand why,” said Rasool Ahmed, an auto driver said at Hyderguda.

When Expresso approached the manager of the filling station, he replied that they do not intentionally manipulate meters. Sometimes, the fuel quantity may be slightly reduced owing to low-voltage, he explained.

Huda said that as digital pumps work on the basis of pulse rate, the delivery can be manipulated by modifying the pulse rate. “A tubelight switch can be used to activate mischievous chips and deactivate the original chips for manipulating the delivery of fuel. In digital pumps, a duplicate mother board can easily be fitted along with original one or in place of original for manipulation of short delivery of fuel.

EPROM chip is a very important component and is located on the mother board.

As it controls the display and discharge, the short delivery can be manipulated by setting preset-keypad,” he said.

A few special teams and flying squads have been deployed to make thorough searches in the Twin Cities, Huda says.

He said that the Department had collected Rs 23.73 lakh from defualters under compounding fee in Hyderabad district while Rs 22.11 lakh of fine was collected in Ranga Reddy district.

In Hyderabad, Rs 62.01 lakh was collected under stamping fee while Rs 41.92 lakh was fined in Ranga Reddy district.

The Legal Metrology department can only impose fines. It is up to the Civil Supplies Department and District Collector to take action against these petrol bunk managements.