‘Pure and Natural,' a fragrant sandalwood oil from Marayur that is extracted and bottled by the State public sector Kerala Forest Development Corporation (KFDC), was launched in the market by Forest Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar here on Tuesday.

The government had banned private sandal oil extraction units in the State and entrusted the task of productively putting to use the dead and wind-fallen trees of the sandalwood tree reserve at Marayur in Idukki district to the KFDC last year.

The ban on private sandalwood oil extraction units had come as a strategy to end the illicit felling and smuggling of the sandalwood trees from the reserve.

Mr. Ganesh Kumar said setting up of the sandalwood oil extraction unit at Marayur was taken up by the government as part of its 100-day programme after the United Democratic Front (UDF) had come to power. Though the unit was commissioned during the first 100 days of the UDF government, the product was reaching the market only now. Five gm of the natural perfume would cost Rs.1,500.

Mr. Ganesh Kumar said the production and marketing of the natural perfume was being conceived in such a way as to take its financial benefits to the tribal people who depended on forest produce for their sustenance. For the time being, the perfume would be marketed through sales outlets of the Vanasree units of the forest-dependent people. The possibilities of widening the sales network would be considered in due course of time.

He said the sandalwood forests of Marayur would be managed on a sustainable basis (without cutting any tree, but by taking only the wind-fallen and dead trees for the sandal oil extraction unit). The KFDC had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Forest Department for the supply of 10 tonnes of sandalwood each year at a fixed price to ensure steady supply of wood for the oil extraction unit.

Principal Secretary for Forests Sajan Peter presided over the function. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests R. Rajaraja Varma, Chief Conservator of Forests N.V. Trivedi Babu, KFDC chairman M. Manoharan Pillai, and KFDC managing director Amarnath Shetty addressed the function.