June 5, 2009 1:34:21 am
Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy on Thursday pulled up Forest Department officials over reports of rampant felling and smuggling of red sanders (red sandal wood) trees from the states forests. The CM is learnt to have given a dressing down to senior officials after receiving reports that in spite of an action plan to tackle smuggling,red sanders were being smuggled out of forests in Chittor,Kadapa,Nellore and Kurnool.
Red sanders wood is in great demand in foreign countries including China,Japan and Germany. The CM was apparently upset that the states forests were being vandalized and the wood,which fetches up to Rs 4 lakh per tonne,is being smuggled out of the country right under the noses of anti-smuggling squads and forest patrols. Take the help of police,conduct joint operations. I want immediate results, the CM told senior forest officials during a meeting attended by state Forest Minister P Ramachandra Reddy too. He wanted the punishment for smuggling red sanders to be included in Schedule 6 of the AP Forest Act,in order to make the punishment more stringent. He asked the forest officials to form inspection squads accompanied by armed police in each of the 11 forest divisions in the state.
The CM reviewed an action plan proposed by the Forest Department to depute armed police to work under Divisional Forest Officers at Kadapa,Rajampet,Tirupati,Proddatur,Nellore,Chittor (east and west),Nandyal and Giddalur,where smuggling is rampant.
In spite of vigilance and checking,felling of red sanders has only increased in the past few years. In 2003-2004,the forest department seized 699 metric tonnes of red sanders wood. In 2006-2007,the seizures increased to 954 metric tonnes while in 2007-2008,425 tonnes were seized.
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