The report titled “A password to fill up tanks at fuel pumps” (December 22) is heartening. Having worked for one of the largest oil companies, way back in the Sixties, I am aware that huge amounts of fuel were being siphoned off from the tankers transiting between terminals and fuel pumps, particularly the ones at what was then known as Palam airport. The stolen ATF (aviation turbine fuel, also known as superior kerosene) would be sold to colluding dealers and, at the airport end, less amount would be pumped into the aircraft than what was billed for. The fact that most of it was “bonded fuel”, that is imported stuff supposedly under the care of excise officials at both ends — the terminals at an outlying area like Shakurbasti and fuel storage tanks at Palam airport — with regular “sealing” of underground tanks at all times by these officials, stock taking of each tank every morning, opening of the seal by the official just before refuelling an international flight which meant re-export of the precious commodity, re-sealing soon after the re-fuelling was over etc. Yet an elaborate exercise involving oil company officials, excise guys and greedy dealers facilitated this “criminal abuse” of the proper system and everyone involved — supposedly including the top brass — shared the spoils.
The airlines paid more for less quantities and the whole process was patched up by ensuring that the excise chaps slept peacefully — most international flights were at night — after handing over the “sealing equipment” to our night shift colleagues. They were provided transport for commuting, also served a wholesome breakfast in the morning, dropped back home and, may be, given some cash also.As gullible, uninformed shift supervisors, we became unintentional accomplices in the elaborate criminal exercise. We were the ones who fiddled with the metering equipment — also sealed at all times — and helped the big oil company cheat the airlines. Hopefully the new initiative will effectively plug the nefarious loophole; which as your report suggests, seems to have survived the last 60 years.
Krishan Kalra, Gurugram Letters can be mailed, faxed or e-mailed to: The Editor, Business Standard Nehru House, 4 Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg New Delhi 110 002 Fax: (011) 23720201 · E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org All letters must have a postal address and telephone number