“Rs. 25,000 crore paid for a resolution to exclude furnace oil from monitoring system”

The oil mafia paid Rs. 25,000 crore in bribes to Ministers to bring out a government resolution (GR), which excluded furnace oil tankers from being monitored, Maharashtra Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vinod Tawade alleged here on Thursday.

Mr. Tawade's statement comes in the wake of the heinous killing of Additional Collector Yashwant Sonawane by the kerosene mafia. Mr. Sonawane was burnt to death while conducting a raid at a kerosene pilfering site.

The BJP leader told journalists that the GR was issued on January 24. “Two persons named Ramesh and Haresh paid Rs. 25,000 crore to State Ministers and a Central Minister after which the GR excluding furnace oil from the monitoring system was passed. Without a nexus between politicians and the mafia, a GR of this nature could not have been passed. The move by the government gave an impetus to the mafia and could be blamed for Mr. Sonawane's death,” he said.

While he refused to name the Ministers, he said he was willing to pass on the information to the Chief Minister.

Mr. Tawade said furnace oil business was worth of Rs.1 lakh crore in the State. “Ships pay a low custom duty by selling furnace oil as sludge oil at the ports. Sludge oil is available on ships for various works.”

On the crackdown on oil pilfering and adulteration activities across the State, Mr. Tawade said the government should have acted earlier if it knew who were responsible for these offences.

According to the BJP leader, the oil mafia was known to operate in locked up factories in Navi Mumbai and Taloja areas, thus making detection difficult. “They keep changing locations making it difficult to trace them. It is surprising that the locks on the tankers remain intact when they reach the destination,” he said.