Remote control devices are being used to manipulate the digital dispensers in fuel outlets, taking consumers for a ride. The devices work by injecting additional signals for short supply of fuel, without being caught by enforcement authorities, it was revealed at a seminar on legal metrology organised here on Sunday in connection with the National Livestock Show and Food Festival.

In a presentation at the seminar, G.V. Ranganatha Swamy, Deputy Controller, Legal Metrology, Andhra Pradesh, said the electronic dispensing pumps could also be manipulated by tampering with the seals of the adjusting mechanism and changing the pulse generator.

Mr. Swamy said many of the methods adopted for manipulation of fuel supply could be achieved without breaking the seal of the Legal Metrology Department. He said inspectors were not trained in checking digital pumps, especially the multi product pumps.

Explaining the mechanism, he said remote control devices were being used to alter the synchronisation between discharge of fuel and display. Tube light switches could be used to activate mischievous chips. Another method was to manipulate the digital totalizer that shows the stock in the tank. Duplicate mother boards could also be easily fitted, along with the original one or in place of the original, for short delivery of fuel. Electronic components like the erasable programmable read only memory (EPROM) chip on the motherboard that controlled the display and discharge could also be replaced with spurious chips for the same purpose.

There were instances in which the software was tampered with to destroy evidence of manipulation. Mr. Swamy said underground storage tanks supplying fuel to the dispenser were often fitted with control valves to manipulate the flow rate and pressure at suction point.

He advocated an evaluation of the China way of working with laser marking chip to bring down the manipulation of digital pumps. The feasibility of using foolproof paper seals for electronic components of dispensing units and square type lead seals for the dispensers should be explored, along with ‘intelligent pliers' with provision for marking unique number on the seal.

V. Sivankutty, MLA, inaugurated the seminar. Director of Information and Public Relations M. Nandakumar presided over the inaugural function. E.J. Jayaraj, controller, Legal Metrology, director V.N. Dikshith, deputy controller C. Radhakrishna Pillai and assistant controller V.S. Benedict also spoke.