Redsanders worth Rs.36 lakh recovered from Nepal

It was a pleasant homecoming for the redsanders (‘Yerra Chandanam’ in Telugu), the precious ethnic wood available only in the Seshachalam hill ranges and nowhere else on the planet.

The forest department has successfully recovered the 23.75 metric tonnes of the redsanders from Nepal, where it was believed to have been smuggled into some two years back. Two truckloads of precious redwood — estimated at Rs. 36 lakh in India and Rs.3 crore in the global market — were brought back through the dangerous Maoist-infested terrain of Bihar-Jharkhand-Northern Andhra Pradesh, referred to as the ‘Red Corridor’.

Two years back, the Government of Nepal had seized the bulk of wood from a private party and the latter filed a case against the State seeking its possession. After the Supreme Court verdict came in favour of the State, the Government of Nepal decided to send back the wood to India under the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES). As things unfolded in New Delhi, it was found that the rare wood was endemic only to the Seshachalam hill ranges spread over Chittoor, Kadapa and parts of Nellore, Kurnool and Prakasam districts and the route opened to Rayalaseema.

Forest Range Officer (Sanipaya range) S. Srinivas, who went all the way to Nepal along with his Section Officer E. Srinivas to bring the wood, recalled his experience with The Hindu on Friday. “Just as we were in the stretch between Jamshedpur and Ranchi, there was a serious commotion and the Maoists had torched a bus. The local police advised us against wearing uniforms and flaunting identity cards,” he said. When accosted by thugs demanding money on highways, the forest officials had to relent. “We had no choice, as entering into a tussle with the ruffians may remove the veil off the high-value wood,” he said.

The seized wood now adds up to the stock already piled up at the Central Redsanders Depot here.