Sandalwood theft rampant in BU

600-acre campus was notified as a reserve way back in 1930s


Armed with automatic chopping machines, the smugglers are chopping fully grown trees under the cover of darkness, taking advantage of shortage of guards.
The newly appointed 52 homeguards, who work in two shifts, are yet to familiarise themselves with the 600-acre campus.
 
“Everything happens in a few minutes. The trees are cut within seconds before we reach the place on hearing the sound. One of my colleagues was even beaten up with a weapon two weeks ago,” said a guard here.
When the matter was brought to the notice of the Jnana Bharathi Police, they warned the guards against such people, instead of helping them.

Lack of protection
The Bangalore University campus had been a sandalwood reserve during the pre-independence era and enjoyed the glory for several decades till it was denotified as a reserve.

Environmentalist and former Conservator of Forests Yellappa Reddy said, “It was notified as sandalwood reserve way back in 1930s. This was a good forest patch and hosted thousands of fully grown sandalwood trees  with good heart wood (commercially viable portion of the tree). The trees were wiped out in the early 70s due to lack of protection after the University came up here. Theft was rampant and finally, the area was denotified as sandalwood reserve.”  
He said that the trees are aplenty even today but are felled by miscreants even before they develop heart wood.

Police outposts
Bangalore University Vice-Chancellor Dr Prabhu Deva said, “It has become a menace. They are not sparing any tree. Most of the time, they see the height of the tree and chop it even though it is not commercially viable.”
The University is proposing two more police outposts including the one at the end of National Law School of India University campus. It is being planned to construct a compound wall demarcating the boundary and to check the illegal activities as well, he said.

Root suckers
The Department of Environment Sciences (DES) and Yellappa Reddy are working on promoting root suckers to conserve heart wood.
“The commercially viable fragrant wood will be in the roots. Our experiments were successful in this regard,” said Reddy.
Dr Nandini, Professor, DES, said, “ The root will grow well and deep when the shoot is chopped, this will be a hope against the sandalwood theft.

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