JAISALMER: Police in Rajasthan have busted a well-organised syndicate that allegedly smuggled about 50 million litres of crude from the Cairn India oilfield in the state through tankers meant to carry water. The great oil robbery at India’s largest onshore oilfield was under way undetected for four to five years.
The oil pilfered from the subsidiary of the British mining and metals company Vedanta Resources is reportedly worth about Rs 45-50 crore. Police have identified three illegal factories at Jalore, where the stolen crude oil was sent and from where it was transported to Gujarat, West Bengal and Delhi, among other states. A total of 30 people have been arrested in connection with the case.
Investigations revealed the racket was run by a gang of over 100 people, including company employees. The accused stole 10 million litres of crude oil every year.
Police have also seized 33 tankers involved in the smuggling. “The company suspected something fishy was happening and complained to us. During investigations, we found this was an organised ring,” a police officer said. He added that the drivers were authorised to carry water — a byproduct in oil exploration — from exploration sites for dumping but some of the tankers were filled with crude instead. The drivers would disable their GPS devices to avoid tracking.
Barmer MP Sonaram Choudhary met CM Vasundhara Raje and demanded she seek a CBI inquiry. Cairn Oil & Gas spokesperson Arun Arora said the firm and police were jointly investigating the matter.