A dozen filling stations found mixing smuggled petrol with the local supplies were sealed by the authorities.
Petrol and diesel smuggled from Iran is supplied to illegal filling stations from the border towns of Balochistan to as far as Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The smugglers cross check points manned by customs, levies, FC and police to deliver Iranian petrol to buyers across the country.
The customs, civil defence, industries, assistant commissioners and police sealed 12 filling stations in Rawat and Gujar Khan in a joint crackdown, which has been launched at the direction of the federal and Punjab governments. They also seized thousands of litres of smuggled and adulterated fuels.
Cases have also been filed against the owners of these filling stations. The next operation will be launched in Murree, Kalar Sayedan, Kahuta, Kotli Satyan, Taxila and Rawalpindi tehsils.
Earlier this month, PM Imran Khan had approved action against 2,094 illegal petrol outlets in three provinces and halt smuggling of petroleum products from Iran via Balochistan.
In a presentation, the customs officials had informed the PM that smuggling of Iranian diesel and petrol causes up to Rs150 billion loss per annum to the national kitty in shape of lost taxes and duties.
The action plan includes a crackdown against illegal petroleum outlets in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Sindh. An FIR will be lodged against the owner and proceedings for forfeiture of oil station and other properties of the owner in favour of the federal government will be initiated.
However, action against illegal petroleum outlets in Balochistan will be taken afterward. The petroleum ministry will also explore with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the possibility of legal import of oil, high-speed diesel from Iran to bring an end to smuggling.
According to estimates, the highest numbers of illegal petroleum retail outlets are in Punjab at 1,317, followed by 343 in K-P, 336 in Sindh and 98 in Islamabad Capital Territory and Rawalpindi division.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2021.
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