To combat the pilferage of coal from the nationalised mines and abandoned mine pits and to curb the continuing menace of sand trafficking, the special Monitoring Task Force in its meeting yesterday decided to conduct joint raids with para-military forces, besides blasting shut certain abandoned pits where coal seams have been left open.

The meeting was held at the office of the CP, Asansol-Durgapur Police Commissionerate in Asansol town where DM, Burdwan, Dr Soumitra Mohan, and senior officials from the Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) took part.

State chief minister Mamata Banerjee, during the 100th Administrative Meeting in Burdwan on 15 July had stressed the need to curb the illegal coal and sand trafficking in the south Bengal districts. The DM and the CP were asked to expedite operation against the mafia involved in the organised pilferage.

Yesterday’s meeting was significant in the wake of Wednesday&’s strong agitation by Trinamul Congress at the Churulia Police Outpost where police personnel were detained for three hours.The Trinamul supporters alleged that every day 250 tractorloads of coal pilfered from the abandoned pits were being dispatched from Churullia and its adjoining villages to different locations in Birbhum district across the Ajoy river.

Mr Ajay Nand, CP said after the meeting: “We have decided to conduct mild blasting in the mine pits where coal seams have been left open and the miscreants are getting access.”

He added: “Many pits have been left open and we have decided to ask the West Bengal Power Development Corporation to join the next meeting.” The WBPDCL has been awarded the erstwhile Bengal Emta Coal Mine in Churulia, where operations have been suspended for the last three months.

Besides illegal coal trafficking, the Task Force will also expedite steps to curb illegal sand mining from the Ajoy and the Damodar riverbeds. Mr Nand said: “Special holograms will be fixed on the challans used by the sand dealers. For this special screening devices would be introduced.” The DM, Dr Mohan said: “The BLLROs have been asked to gear up drive against pilferage,".He however claimed that sand pilferage has been reduced drastically these days as a result of frequent raids.