PUNE The Pimpri-Chinchwad police investigation into the Tathawade serial blasts has revealed that the suspects involved in illegal filling of cylinders through a tanker loaded with propylene gas were allegedly stealing LPG from domestic cylinders.
Police on Monday arrested Mahipal Chaudhari and two others for allegedly stealing petrol from a tanker that triggered the explosions and vandalized vehicles parked nearby.
Kakasaheb Dole, deputy commissioner of police (zone 2), said: “The main suspect, Mahipal, was arrested for a similar offense in September and was released on bail.”
Mahipal was caught in an LPG theft case reported at Ravet police station in April 2023. Police raided his illegal unit near Karuna hotel and arrested him.
The suspect began committing crimes after facing a loss while running a grocery store.
With the help of two accomplices, including an employee of a local LPG gas agency, Mahipal used to procure full cylinders of LPG, steal a small portion and fill empty cylinders to sell to retailers.
Meanwhile, consumers have complained that their home cylinders are running out faster than before. Sapana Keskar of Kalewadi in Pimpri-Chinchwad said, “I don’t know how to check the weight of full cylinders, but earlier it used to last at least 45 days and now it is exceeded by 20-22 days.”
Maruti Bhapkar, a social activist, said, “The full cylinders are unloaded from the vehicles in connivance with the gas agency staff and taken to the accused’s workshop, where 10 to 15 per cent of the fuel is pumped out and reseal the cylinder. “Everyone involved gets a cut.”
Shivaji Gaware, senior inspector of Ravet police station, said, “Mahipal supplied full cylinders at below-market rates.”
According to Wakad police, the main accused approached a truck driver transporting petrol from Kochi to Gujarat and was trying to steal petrol from the tanker for a commercial cylinder when the explosions occurred.
According to authorities, as per norms, the net weight of a domestic LPG cylinder is 14.2 kg and that of an industrial cylinder is 19.2 kg. The maximum error allowed in domestic LPG cylinders is plus or minus 150 g. Pandurang Tekale of Sandesh Gas Agency in Pimpri said customers are advised to report if they sense anything suspicious related to the sale of LPG cylinders.