Staff Reporter

Says sandalwood mafia will be completely busted

  • Government will not cave in to threats, he says
  • `Government committed to preserving forests for posterity'

    KOLLAM: There has been an appreciable drop in smuggling of sandalwood trees from the Marayur reserve forests in the past six months, said Minister for Forest and Wildlife Protection Benoy Viswom on Thursday.

    He was inaugurating a two-day national symposium on `Recent trends in biodiversity conservation and environmental biotechnology,' organised by the Zoology Department of Fatima Mata National College, here.

    The Minister said that if seven trees on an average were smuggled from the forests every day six months ago, the figure had dropped to 0.2 trees now. But the Government was not satisfied. The fight against smuggling would continue till the sandalwood mafia was completely busted.

    The mafia had proclaimed that it was powerful enough to pull down or install ministers and governments. But the Left Democratic Front Government would not cave into such threats, said Mr. Viswom.

    The Government was committed to ensuring that the forest wealth was not eroded any further. In the fight against the forest mafia, the Government had to win. Else, the country would fail in providing future generations with the right to a decent life.

    Forests were the property of the country and the Government was committed to preserving them for posterity. Without forests, there would be no progress, no biodiversity and no life. But it was a fact that forests were under threat and deforestation was an alarming reality. Though a lot had been spoken and done the world over against the threat to forests, it still persisted. Smuggling of forest wealth was a criminal and anti-social activity. The people should raise their voice against it, he said.

    In his presidential address, Kollam Bishop Stanley Roman said it was unfortunate that humanity was unable to tap the potential of medicinal plants "which God has provided for us." Many of these plants were facing extinction. The people should learn to respect and protect nature, he said.

    College Principal Soosamma Kavumpurath welcomed the gathering.