The oil mafia is at work again! Professional gangs of thieves drilled into the Indian Oil Corporation Limited's (IOCL) underground pipeline carrying crude oil from Gujarat basin to the oil major's Panipat and Mathura refineries, in Jaipur leading to a huge oil spill.
The oil company has also decided to shut down supply to the refineries till the pipeline, which covers 2230 km in Rajasthan, is restored.
The leaking pipeline resulted in an oil spill of 1000 litre crude oil in a river basin near Jaipur. The spill was spotted on Saturday afternoon by one Babulal near Jaisinghpura Khor (six km from Jaipur-Delhi highway). By then, nearly half-a-dozen birds were drowned in the viscous oil.
An IOCL rescue team from Chaksu was pressed into action to plug the damage and reclaim lost crude oil. "The oil mafia drilled deep up to four or five ft into the pipeline. It will take more than a week for our experts to repair the damaged pipeline. We will have to shut the supply to the Mathura and Panipat refineries," IOCL (Rajasthan Western Region) chief security officer Pramod Goswami told DNA.
This the second time the mafia drilled into the IOCL pipeline in Jaipur this year. The kingpin of the oil racket Gaurav Singhal (hailing from Delhi) along with an aide is absconding, officials said.
A Jaipur police team cordoned off the area and fire tenders were pressed into action to shield the people in the area from any after-effects. Civil defence volunteers were also pressed into action.
IOCL sources believe that the damage done to the pipeline by the oil mafia has not been done in a single day, but is the result of recci done by an organised gang over a long period.
Sources also believe that without the help of locals such a major drill into the pipeline is not possible. The last time two local men were arrested for aiding the mafia in Bassi area. The locals were paid by the gang for regular inputs about the pipeline.
The pipeline, which connects Abu Road to Gujarat, Shahjahanpur to Haryana and Bharatpur to Mathura runs across Rajasthan, including Sirohi, Pali, Chittorgarh, Bhilwara, Ajmer, Tonk, Jaipur, Jaipur Rural, Alwar, Dausa and Bharatpur before foraying into refineries in Panipat and Mathura.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Jaipur North) Mahendra Singh Chaudhary, said a case has been registered against unidentified persons under relevant provisions of Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety Act).
"It seems to be the handiwork of expert gang of crude oil thieves and could well be linked to the gang involved in the January incident in Bassi," he added.
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(Originally published May 20, 2012, by DNA. Sunday.)