Ramar Pillai from a village near Rajapalayam in Tamil Nadu shot to fame in 1996 following claims of a herbal fuel that was devoid of any petrochemicals. He began selling this fuel under brand names of Ramar Bio-fuel, Ramar Tamil Devi Mooligai Eriporul, and Ramar Petrol.
At that time, when he had made the demonstration, M Karunanidhi, the then CM of Tamil Nadu, who was present at the venue, was all impressed. He had stated that he would ask Govt of India to help Ramar not only patent the fuel, but also setup a research lab. For this, Karunanidhi had also announced to donate 10 acres of land to Pillai, in the latter’s native village of Idaiyankulam.
However, twenty years later, the law got the better of Pillai and his claims of 100% herbal fuel has been found to contain petrochemicals leading to his conviction for fraud. Pillai has been found guilty by a CBI Court and convicted by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Egmore, R Venudevi, S Chinnasamy, R Rajasegaran and SK Bharat.
Pillai claimed that the herbal petrol contained ingredients such as secret herbs, salt and citric acid which when combined and boiled together for 30 minutes, produced a fuel, good enough to power vehicles. These claims shot Pillai to immediate fame for finding a cheaper and greener alternative to conventional fuel.
IIT Madras and Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun rejected these claims but this did not deter Pillai who went ahead and set up a company called Ramar Biofuel Pvt. Ltd. In 1996, when petrol was being sold at INR 35 per liter, this herbal fuel was selling at INR 10-15 per liter.
Following further inquiries, CBI now claims that the herbal fuel was a mix of petroleum products which violated Motor Spirit Speed Diesel Order. While through the years, Pillai and his associates have earned well over INR 2.27 crores on this so called herbal fuel, he has now been sentenced to 3 years imprisonment for cheating while a fine of INR 30,000 has been levied on him. Who says crime doesn’t pay?