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Beware! Your grocer might be selling unrefined oil

Beware! Your grocer might be selling unrefined oil
Highlights

Oil mills in Katedan and Gagan Pahad have for long been a hub for the manufacture of unrefined oil, which in turn, is supplied as raw material to leading manufacturers of vegetable oil brands. That is precisely where the million-dollar question lurks-the oil mafia, which sells unrefined oil to hotels and kirana shops in the area, is raking in moolah of the extraordinary kind even as the concerned officials appear to turn a Nelson’s Eye!

Turning oil into cash

Oil mills in Katedan and Gagan Pahad have for long been a hub for the manufacture of unrefined oil, which in turn, is supplied as raw material to leading manufacturers of vegetable oil brands. That is precisely where the million-dollar question lurks-the oil mafia, which sells unrefined oil to hotels and kirana shops in the area, is raking in moolah of the extraordinary kind even as the concerned officials appear to turn a Nelson’s Eye!

  • Unrefined oil from Katedan floods Old City
  • Oil companies, mafia, kirana shops nexus thrives
  • Ignorant buyers fall for ‘low-cost’ bait

The unrefined oil is transported to the vegetable oil companies in tankers, which generally take the Bengaluru Highway. Locals residing in the vicinity point out that more often than not, some vehicles get diverted to select lanes and by-lanes where 20 tonnes of oil is transferred into 20 litres drums. Subsequently, it is the 20-litre cans/drums that are supplied to the regular clientele comprising of hotels and kirana shops in the area.

Though these vans are often intercepted by the police, very few are reportedly seized, which according to a senior citizen, is indicative that there more than meets the eye. On their part, the petty grocers too make a killing by selling the unrefined oil, which is the main reason why they patronise these doles. Sales could be in bits and pieces but they are not complaining because the end-customers are the gullible workers making a livelihood in the nearby Industrial Development Area (IDA). The illiterate people are oblivious of the fact that the oil is health hazard.

The bait for which entices them is the ‘generous’ seller’s ‘largesse’ of making available oil at a price that is ostensibly much lower than the MRP. Each kirana shop in the area buys a 20 litre drum of the semi-refined oil for Rs 400 and sells at Rs 80 per litre. The profits hovering above Rs 1,000 on each drum is duly shared, in varying proportions, by the oil mafia and the kirana shop owners.

The larger picture is preposterous-the overall profit from each tanker is a staggering Rs ten lakh per day! What is a matter of shameful regret is that this is not a new phenomenon. Street-smart ‘entrepreneurs’ have been effectively employing a similar modus operandi for as long as one can remember. Alas, despite an ‘ever-alert’ vigil, there is no tangible action worth the name giving rise to speculate about the involvement of people with influential contacts, as another elderly person at Katedan points out.

It is also said that some oil companies are hand in glove with the oil mafia as the buyers of the semi-refined oil are dwindling by the day. “Top vegetable oil producing companies are vertically integrating and they are no longer buying from us,” informed owner of an oil company in Katedan. When contacted the food inspectors revealed that no official complaint has been filed so far.

“It has been brought to our notice that the oil mafia, which specialises in sale of semi-crude oil, is thriving in Katedan and Gaganpahad area. We have received complaints in this regard and have alerted food inspectors and police in the area, we will crack whip on the mafia,” said P Chandrasekhar, MRO, Rajendranagar circle.

By:Aditya Parankusam

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