Special act to check red sanders smuggling mooted

Rajulapudi Srinivas

Authorities had booked about 400 cases in last eight years

Proposal submitted to government for Rs. 10 crore to strengthen staff

Tamil Nadu-based smuggler gangs are operating in Andhra Pradesh

NELLORE: In view of the spurt in illegal transportation of red sanders from the State for the past few months, the Forest Department is planning to bring out an Act to check timber smuggling and book the culprits.

The forest officials also submitted a proposal to the government for Rs. 10 crore to strengthen the staff in rural areas and requested to give force from Police Department on deputation basis to help the forest guards.

According to official sources, red sanders were being raised in Kadapa, Chittoor, Nellore and Prakasam districts in the State. It is said that a few Tamil Nadu-based smuggler gangs are operating in Andhra Pradesh and are shifting the valuable timber to Burma, China and Nepal.

Vehicles seized

The forest authorities booked about 400 cases in the last eight years (from 2001 to 2008), seized 21,117 logs weighing about 566.86 tonnes of red sanders worth about Rs. 8.8 crore in Sri Potti Sriramulu Nellore district. They seized 178 vehicles and booked cases against 110 persons in this connection.

Speaking to The Hindu Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) C. Sivasankara Reddy said the government is proposing to bring an ordinance to check red sanders smuggling.

Now the forest officials are booking cases against the accused under Red Sanders and Sandalwood Transit Rules of Andhra Pradesh Forest Act, 1967, and the smugglers are coming out on bail. Once the Act comes into force, the smugglers will not get bail and the punishment would be more stringent.

Outsourcing staff

Apart from routine recruitment, the department will soon arrange base camps and watch towers with outsourcing staff in the villages which are prone for smuggling. We are also taking the help of Vana Samrakshana Samitis to develop informant network about smugglers in villages, said the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.

Intensifying raids

An armed police force would be given to each DFO in all ranges and the forest officials will intensify raids. A proposal has been submitted to the government requesting to sanction Rs. 10 crore per annum for arranging more vehicles, setting up check posts and base camps and purchasing other equipment to check illegal transportation of red sanders, said Mr. Reddy.

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