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Man who claimed to invent petrol from water, jailed for 3 years – But he has already made INR 2.27 crores

Ramar Pillai claimed the fuel to be 100% herbal while a percentage of petrochemicals was found added to the mixture.

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?

About the author

Pearl Daniels

Pearl Daniels

Former freelance writer, Pearl Daniels is in the auto industry since 2011, having established herself as a widely read staff writer since 2013. Her keen eye for industry news, daily need to break down latest events, and quest to not miss a single launch detail, gives you the most refreshing morning news on weekdays.

Email - pearl@rushlane.com

1 Comment

  • Great Article that is interesting… If his fuel is costing less than half of normal petrol, why is the government not promoting it instead of punishing him on technicalities? May be the author could shed some light on how it “violated Motor Spirit Speed Diesel Order”.

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