Of Rakta Chandanam, smuggling and police encounter
Of Rakta Chandanam, smuggling and police encounter The insanely high value of rare red sander also known as Rakta chandanam in the international market has made it a hot commodity for smugglers who operate from states bordering Andhra Pradesh.
The insanely high value of rare red sander also known as Rakta chandanam in the international market has made it a hot commodity for smugglers who operate from states bordering Andhra Pradesh. The Seshachalam forests at the foot hills of Tirumala the abode of Lord Venkateswara has become a virtual battle field in the recent days with the Andhra Pradesh government deciding to save the rare commodity and earn revenue by auctioning the same in the international market.
A ton of red sanders fetches up to Rs 10 crore in Chinese market and also in Hong Kong and certain other Pacific Rim countries. According to AP State Biodiversity Board (APSBB), the cut pieces of red-sanders, smuggled out from the forests is found to have been used in making high value furniture, and for making a Viagra-like drugs, astringent tonic to cure chronic dysentery, and to control diabetes, It was also allegedly smuggled from Andhra Pradesh for use in China for atomic energy purposes.
The modus operandi of smuggling the red sanders after being cut by coolies hired from Tamil Nadu includes transferring the logs from the Seshachalam forest on small vehicles, cycles and even carrying each log and dumping them close to a highway. Later, the logs are picked up by smugglers. The state police were astonished when they seized over 2000 Innova vehicles in different raids carrying cut pieces of red sanders. Few coolies were even dressed as Sadhus to sneak into the Seshachalam forest under the pretext of meditating. Each coolie mostly from bordering Tamil Nadu were paid Rs 500 per kg for carrying the illegally cut logs from Seshachalam Forest to nearest road.
A Special Task Force comprising AP Police and Forest officials has already been constituted in June 2013 and it has been carrying out daily raids on the hideouts across Kadapa, Chittoor, Nellore and Kurnool districts to check the rampant felling of the red sander trees.
In a major victory over red sanders smugglers of sorts, Kollam Gangi Reddy, who ran a highly-organized red sanders smuggling racket in Chittoor, Nellore, Kurnool and Kadapa districts, was arrested by the Interpol in Mauritius in the month of March. Gangi Reddy was active in Naxal movement few years ago and was one of an accused in the claymore mine attack on Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu at Alipiri in 2003.
Reddy started smuggling red sanders in 2002, when he was introduced to a notorious smuggler, Venkatarama Raju, by one of the forest watchman. In later years he joined hands with notorious international kingpin Sahul to make a quick buck. He operated with absolute freedom not only in the Seshachalam hill ranges, spread from Tirupati to Mydukur, but beyond Indian shores. Andhra Pradesh government is trying to secure extradition from the island nation.