Coimbatore

Multi-pronged strategy to cut down on sandalwood tree felling

Stung by a series of incidents of sandalwood thefts across the city, the police have drawn up a multi-pronged strategy to prevent felling of sandalwood trees and also to detect the cases already reported.

Sandalwood trees in city limits continued to remain a bone of contention for the police and Forest Departments on who should initiate action. Sandalwood trees are government property and certainly theft or damage requires the law to be set in motion.

The Forest Department found itself in a fix, as it could not invoke the provisions of the Forest Protection Act for an offence committed outside Forest boundaries.

On the other hand, City police had none coming forward to prefer a complaint and claiming ownership of the stolen trees.

Since January 2014, there had been 12 incidents of sandalwood tree felling and thefts and one failed attempt.

The property involved was more than 16 logs of sandalwood trees. Not a single case had been resolved yet. These statistics pertain only to the recent period but incidents of felling sandalwood trees in residential areas and government properties at night had been a problem since 2005.

In fact, a gang nabbed for smuggling sandalwood trees, had even assaulted the police and escaped after snatching their 9mm pistol and cellular phone in February 2008 and the case was resolved a year later.

Habitual offenders cut sandalwood trees and smuggle them to sandalwood oil extraction factories in Kerala. These smugglers from the neighbouring State use power saws and the entire effort at felling a tree is completed in half-an-hour’s time. On February 11, a tree was cut on a campus close to the Government Arts College boys’ hostel at Race Course and on February 12 another incident of felling a sandalwood tree was reported at TVS Nagar.

When contacted senior Forest officials said, if the civic administration and police required, the forest department was willing to offer its services in identifying sandalwood trees in and around the city.

An enumeration of sandalwood trees could help the police in planning their night beat patrol and lurking beat marches to prevent further theft of sandalwood trees.

City Police Commissioner A.K. Viswanathan and Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Pravesh Kumar said that areas in Coimbatore Central Sub-division and in parts of Coimbatore West had sandalwood trees.

There would be enhanced attention by the police personnel in these areas to prevent further incidents, he added.


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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 10:17:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/multipronged-strategy-to-cut-down-on-sandalwood-tree-felling/article6910822.ece

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