Fuel Adulteration

A video went viral, almost two months ago, on social media in which a person at a fuel station in Lahore was showing a sample of fuel contaminated with water. However, it didn’t generate any curiosity of authorities to check if the fuel that is sold is of good quality or not.

But now a big stakeholder, Honda Atlas Cars, has filed a complaint with Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) regarding high concentration of manganese added to fuel that is sold at petrol pumps. Samples taken from units of Pakistan State Oil, Shell and Total show that per kilogram of fuel, 54 mg of manganese is added to enhance the quality of cheap fuel.

The flipside of this practice is the adverse effects of such fuel on the performance of vehicles and human health because of the emissions. So far, the relevant ministry, Petroleum Ministry, has not devised a mechanism for checking the quality of the fuel that vehicles use in Pakistan.

While OGRA will investigate into the matter, the quantity of manganese found in the samples is more than double the quantity that is deemed dangerous, i.e., 24 mg per kilogram. While the primary concern of Honda in the present scandal is that such portion is hazardous for engines of vehicles, the matter is more dangerous. For recently, Honda has received complaints from its costumers that Honda Cars’ engines catch fire. If contaminated fuel is the cause of such incidents, then it is a clear-cut case of criminal negligence.

While the petroleum ministry is already aware of the fuel adulteration that is rampant across the country, the ministry has not done anything about it. In April this year, OGRA decided to launch a drive against adulterated petroleum products, no action has been taken since then. The petroleum ministry has failed to implement its fuel-marking programme that was aimed at putting a halt to the practice of adding kerosene to fuel.

So it is not only manganese but also other substances that are added to cheap quality petrol to present it as a high-quality fuel. The corrupt practices to mint money are also endangering people’s lives in different ways.The government should take immediate and necessary steps to look into the matter. The state should deal the responsible ones with iron hands. It is the lack of a regulatory mechanism that some people are involved in illegal actions of such nature.

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