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Filling stations defy ban,still sell lubricating oil without additives

Despite a ban on production, blending, import and marketing of lubricating oil...

Despite a ban on production, blending, import and marketing of lubricating oil without proper additives since January 1, its use continues particularly by auto-rickshaw drivers, causing air pollution.

Some chemical reagents are added to crude lubricating oil during blending and refining to make it smoke-free.

Some 65,000 auto-rickshaw drivers in the city mix crude lubricating oil with petrol for use in their vehicles, which emits smoke causing air pollution.

Auto-rickshaw drivers are seen buying lubricating oil in unsealed containers from petrol pumps though its sale in unsealed containers is strictly prohibited.

Recycled engine oil is also available. It is being used by auto-rickshaw driver, and by farmers and boat owners in the countryside.

Use of such poor quality engine oil also reduces longevity of engines, experts say.

The ban followed a prolonged campaign by different groups and the media.

The government in its January 1 order also said that import or sale of lubricating oil below Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation's (BPC) specifications would be liable to action under the Petroleum Act, 1974 and the BPC Ordinance, 1976.

The order prohibits production, import and marketing of lubricating oil below API SC/CC grade engine oil for motor vehicles and APITC or JASO FB for two-stroke engine of auto-rickshaws.

It also prohibited bulk supply of lubricating oil by tank lorries and said it could be marketed only in drums, cans or sachets with the quality, grade and price marked on the containers.

'Industrial grade' lubricating oil also cannot be imported, blended or sold without specific demand letter of any company.

But the order remains in paper five months after its issuance.

Even T2 engine oil imported by BPC for two-stroke auto-rickshaws is not being used by any one simply because low grade or recycled engine oil is available at petrol pumps and shops. The BPC recently imported 60,000 ml of T2 engine oil from Singapore.

Talking to this correspondent, some auto-rickshaw drivers said they are unaware of availability of T2 engine oil. "Mixing mobil (engine oil) with petrol reduces fuel consumption", one of them said.

The World Bank, in cooperation with an NGO Society for Urban Environmental Protection (SUEP) recently trained 1000 auto-rickshaws drivers on use of proper engine oil.

SUEP on April 17 wrote a letter to the Bangladesh Petrol Pump Owners Association, urging it to take steps to make T2 engine oil available to auto-rickshaw drivers. But the letter went unheeded, says Akhtar Hossain Babu of SUEP.

When contacted, Lt Col (Rtd) Abdul Mannan, BP, President of Bangladesh Petrol Pump Owners Association, said the loose engine oil being sold in petrol pumps and shops now is from the old stock.

He said the association has notified all its members to comply with the BPC directives. "The new order means a price increase by 44 per cent. We have requested the authorities to consider the price for the sake of farmers", he added.