Forest dept eager to auction seized sandalwood

To seek permission for conversion from local jurisdictional courts

 With close to 100 tonnes of sandalwood left unused at ‘Sandal Kote’ (Sandal Depot) at Aranya Bhavan in the city, the Forest department will seek permission from local jurisdictional courts to convert and auction seized sandalwood stocked in the Depot.

They were seized by the department over a period spanning three decades.

The Depot at Mysuru, established in 1908, is the oldest, and one among the three in the State, with two others located at Dharwad and Shimoga. Speaking to Deccan Herald, V Karikalan, Deputy Conservator of Forests, said that the department would write to the jurisdictional courts requesting it to allow conversion of the sandalwood seized during smuggling, after keeping a sample for court proceedings. Conversion of the seized material was necessary before auctioning it, he said.

Stock

Some of the sandalwood at the Depot was seized way back in 1976-77. Also, the stock of seized sandalwood has grown over the years. With the price of one kg of sandalwood ranging from Rs 7,000 to 8,500 kg, keeping samples and auctioning the rest would generate revenue to the State.

For instance, Karikalan said that there was a case where close to five tonnes of sandalwood was seized. “Instead of storing all the sandalwood at the facility, 100 kg of the lot can be stored as sample for court proceedings and the rest can be converted and auctioned,” he said.

Cases

He said that the stock was associated with more than 1,000 cases of sandalwood smuggling, from 10 forest divisions surrounding Mysuru, which include Chamarajanagar, Hassan, Mandya, and others. Storing such a large amount of sandalwood for several years would result in losses, owing to moisture loss and others. Therefore, it will be beneficial if court permits conversion, he said.
Smuggling of sandalwood in the State has been drastically reduced, as, there were no large sandalwood trees in the region.

While tonnes of sandalwood used to be seized in the past, recent arrests for smuggling involve about 50-100 kg, and such cases are few and far between.
With material of 10 divisions at Sandal Kote in the city, Karikalan said that letters would be dispatched to DCF’s of respective divisions to initiate similar communication with jurisdictional courts in their limits.

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