INDIA. Mumbai: The Palghar Police and Forest officials, in a joint operation, seized red sandalwood worth Rs 6 crore from a truck on the Kaman-Bhiwandi Road, about 35 kms from Mumbai, on Sunday.
The logs (30 to 35 cubic mtrs) of Red Sandalwood were concealed behind sacks of onions and were being taken to the Nhava Sheva Port (near Panvel in Raigad district) to be shipped abroad, a police officer from Waliv Police station (Vasai East) said on Monday.
The consignment had come from Andhra Pradesh. “Acting on a tip-off, the police intercepted the container truck near Kaman check post in the early hours of Sunday and found red sandalwood concealed behind sacks of onions,” Zonal DCP Suhas Bavche said.
Two persons (including a driver) were arrested in the seizure, and an offence under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Forest Act was registered against them, he added.
The smuggling of Red Sanders continues to occur in different parts of India, including Maharashtra. In June this year, 60,660 kg red sandalwood worth Rs 3.25 crore, illegally stored in a godown, was seized by the MIDC Police in Ahmednagar district in Western Maharashtra.
Similarly, the smuggling of Red Sanders wood incidents is being detected by different agencies across the country. In the fiscal years 2020-21 and 2021-22, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized 96 and 95 MT of Red Sanders, respectively, estimated at over Rs. 150 crores in the international market, from different parts of India,
In March this year, DRI seized 12.20 MT of Red Sanders wood from a container in Container Freight Station (CFS), Krishnapatnam Port (Nellore district, Andhra Pradesh) that was being smuggled to Malaysia along with a cover cargo of sand/cement chips/gravel and miscellaneous household items.
In the same month, 11.7 MT of Red Sanders wood was seized at Mundra port (Gujarat), which was being smuggled out of India in the guise of export of “tractor parts”.
Red Sanders is a flora species endemic to a distinct tract of forests in the Eastern Ghats region of Andhra Pradesh and falls under the “endangered list” in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
It is also listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Its rich hue and therapeutic properties are responsible for its high demand across Asia, including China and Singapore, for use in cosmetics, medicinal products and high-end furniture/woodcraft. The export of Red Sanders from India is prohibited per the Foreign Trade Policy.