Posted by JR John on March 11, 2000 at 17:50:50:
The Hindu 12th March 00
Ramar Pillai arrested
By Our Special Correspondent
CHENNAI, MARCH 11. Ramar
Pillai, who created a sensation with
his `herbal fuel,' was arrested by
the CBI here in the wee hours of
Saturday on charges of criminal
conspiracy and cheating the public
by selling industrial organic
chemicals as herbal fuel.
He was later produced before a
Judge who remanded him to
judicial custody till March 24. Following a request from the
investigating agency, the Judge granted six days police custody.
Denying the charges against him, Ramar Pillai said some persons
were trying to sabotage his invention. He reiterated that his product
was only herbal fuel and did not have any chemical. Hailing from a
village near Rajapalayam in Virudhunagar district of Tamil Nadu, he
shot into prominence in 1996 and conducted several demonstrations
about his invention, including one before the Chief Minister,
Mr.M.Karunanidhi, and several before scientists. He recently
announced that he had devised methods to use sea water as the basic
raw material for his fuel, which he christened `herbal hydrocarbon'.
He began commercial production last year and the fuel was being
sold at Rs.23 per litre.
The CBI Joint Director, Mr.D.Mukherjee, said that based on reliable
information, the agency searched Ramar Pillai's residence at
Kodambakkam, godown at Pallavaram and 11 retail outlets in the
city and outskirts and seized 10,500 litres of `Ramar Petrol' and
1500 litres of additives, strongly suspected to be linear alkyl benzene.
The additive material had not been tested so far. Cash totalling Rs.4.6
lakhs and several documents, including bills for purchase of
chemicals, were seized. The fuel was sold in the names of `Ramar
Bio-fuel', `Ramar Tamil Devi Mooligai Eriporul' and `Ramar Petrol'.
Mr.Mukherjee said it was alleged that Pillai, ``in conspiracy with
unknown public servants of oil refineries and oil distributing
companies was getting supply of petroleum products like benzene,
toulene etc, which are utilised for purposes other than as a fuel. These
chemicals with the additives were being sold as herbal petrol``.
Industrial solvents, benzene and toulene are used as raw material for
the manufacture of other organic compounds. The Joint Director said
the fuel was purchased and tested in a laboratory. It did not conform
to the standards of motor gasoline as per IS 2796:1995. The test
revealed that the fuel was a mixture of toluene and benzene.
A case was registered under IPC sections 120-B (criminal
conspiracy) and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of
property), section 7 (1) of Essential Commodities Act and Motor
Spirit and High Speed Diesel regulation, distribution and prevention
of malpractices order. As the hand of public servants was strongly
suspected, sections 13 (2) read with 13 (1) (d) of PCA were also
Mr.Mukherjee said it is suspected that the two solvents had been
purchased from middlemen. The central agency registered a case suo
motu based on reliable information. There were oral complaints
regarding the fuel. Pillai had applied for patent, but had not obtained it
so far. There was no factory as claimed by Pillai, but only a godown
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