State to call global tenders soon to sell wood seized from smugglers
Andhra Pradesh government will soon auction about half its stock of seized red sandalwood in the international market. The state will call global tenders in a few days.
The state has over 8,550 tonnes of the wood seized from smugglers since 2002.
"We will auction 4,000 tonnes as the first phase. The Centre has given permission to sell the stock," state forest minister Bojja Gopalakrishna Reddy told the media persons in Hyderabad yesterday.
Red sander is an endangered tree species found only in the forests of Chittoor, Kadapa, Nellore and Kurnool districts of Andhra Pradesh. It grows in about 200,000 hectares of forests in the state. The tree being an endangered species, its sale is controlled by the Central government.
High demand leading to smuggling
Red sanders has huge demand in countries such as China and Japan for making medicines, furniture, musical instruments and sculpture. A tonne of red sanders costs more than Rs 25 lakh in the international market. A big network of red sanders smugglers is thriving in the country. Incidents of smugglers attacking forest officials have increased in Andhra Pradesh in the past few years. Last December, two forest officials were killed by a group of 100 smugglers in Chittoor forests.
"In the past few years, the Centre had not given permission to sell the seized red sanders. This resulted in a thriving illegal trade and smuggling of red sanders," pointed out the minister. The state government has been lobbying with the Centre for getting permission to sell the seized logs.
The state will issue a notification calling global tenders soon, said the minister. For the time being, the state has fixed the base price of the seized wood at Rs 10 lakh a tonne. "We may hike it later," said the minister.
For preventing smuggling, as many as 84 base camps have been established in the interior areas of the three districts and tribal watchmen have been hired to keep vigil, said the minister. Apart from this, 33 special strike force teams and 11 armed mobile squads, two dog squads and one boat patrol have been set up for fighting against the all-powerful smugglers, said the minister.
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