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Indian state installs flowmeters at petrol pumps to prevent customers being cheated

The petrol and diesel retailing system in the western state of Maharashtra in India is set to undergo reform as the state government examines flowmeters to be installed at petrol pumps.

The meters are to replace the current old and easily cheated dip rod systems used to measure fuel quantity when petrol or diesel is pumped from tankers to petrol pumps.

The dip rod is marked by the Legal Metrology Oorganization (LMO) by measuring water, which makes faking measurements easy as the density of water differs from petrol’s and diesel’s.

Pilot projects for the flowmeters, which will scientifically measure the amount of liquid fuel moving into petrol pumps, are set to begin in the near future.

In addition to the flowmeters, the Maharashtra state government intends to carry out an audit of units used to dispense petrol and diesel to customers at retail outlets.

These measures come after consumer complaints about being short-delivered on fuel, which means the retailers have been giving customers a lesser quantity of fuel than what they have paid for.

'We have decided in-principle to install flowmeters if safety measures are taken. The Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) is okay with movable and fixed meters,' says Sanjay Pandey, controller, LMO, Maharashtra.

Pandey also says there will be a meeting this week to approve the design of the meters proposed by vendors, after which the pilot project will launch.

Earlier, LMO has made it mandatory for petrol pumps have their dispensing units tested and audited by manufacturers before receiving government operating certification.

Each of the approximately 4,700 petrol pumps in Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai's 223, sells an average 350 kilolitres (KL) of petrol and diesel every month.

The pilot is proposed to be held at three petrol pumps in Mumbai, but one more pump elsewhere in the state has been shortlisted.