IOC officials on the run

| 17 July 2002 23:27 IST

The Indian Oil Corporation officials are on the run in Goa with a major catastrophe in the port town being averted but a major pilferage racket being exposed.

The sudden blasts last week near huge oil storage tanks in Vasco city here, adjacent to the MPT harbour, could destroy the whole port town if the fire tenders had not rushed in time. However, it brought to light a major oil pilferage racket being run while downloading oil from the ship.

"I am convinced that it is a well-organised racket and connivance of high officials of several authorities could not be denied", said chief minister Manohar Parrikar, after personally visiting the place.

As he ordered thorough inquiry into the whole racket, at least four IOC officials have now rushed to the court, seeking anticipatory bail. The police however have arrested only three persons, including one petrol pump owner, but not touched any authority as yet.

According to Parrikar, the annual loss caused due to the pilferage racket would not be below Rs 10 crore and minimum 500 tanker-load of oil must have been stolen, in connivance with the officials.

With not less than 30 huge storage tanks being installed in the heart of the port town and adjacent to the harbour, it is also considered to be the security threat due to prevailing Indo-Pak tension, states chief secretary Baleshwar Rai.

Shantaram Naik, former Congress MP, has thus expressed surprise why union petroleum minister Ram Naik has not even reacted to the serious incident. "Does it mean that the central government has decontrolled even the security threat in petroleum sector by leaving it to the market forces", he asks.

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