Special Task Forces set up to tackle coal mafia
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To combat theft of coal by gangs indulging in mafia-style operations in various coalfields, coal-rich states have set up Special Task Forces (STFs) to take them head on. State governments will also form inter-state Joint Intelligence Cells to ensure close coordination for precision operations in their mining zones.
Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said that at the behest of the Central government states like Jharkhand and West Bengal have recently set up the task force in the coalfields of Bharat Coking Coal Limited and Eastern Coalfields Limited.
"The STFs will operate under the Principal Secretary (Home) of the respective states and will function under the direct supervision of the Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police," he told The Indian Express. States like Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are also preparing to set up the task force.
District magistrates have also been empowered to work in close coordination with the top brass of the state administration. The process to set up STFs in another subsidiary of Coal India Limited — Mahanadi Coalfields (Orissa) is on a war-footing. The CIL management has been asked to work in active coordination with the states, civil and local authorities to update them on the ground situation on a periodical basis.
"The STFs have been asked to carry out frequent patrolling, carry out raids and seizures of illegally mined coal and carry set up security check posts in the identified troubled spots," Jaiswal said.
While the Central Industrial Security Force is tasked with ensuring security in and around the coalfields, the STFs have a wider mandate in raiding the peripheral and poorly manned areas to weed out the illegal mining menace, the minister said. So far, around 10 teams, each comprising of 20 personnel have been set up.
To neutralise the threat of the coal mafia, CIL has asked all its subsidiaries to mandatorily put in place GPS-based monitoring of their truck movements.
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