Sentiment, liquor bait behind cutting of red sanders trees
It is intriguing to know that the tribal sentiment coupled with vice coming in the way of ending red sanders smuggling from Seshachalam forests in the state The woodcutters from Tamil Nadu did not stop felling the red sanders trees in Seshachalam forests despite Red Sanders AntiSmuggling Task Force RSASTF personnel and staff of Forest and Police departments intensifying combing operations
Tirupati: It is intriguing to know that the tribal sentiment coupled with vice coming in the way of ending red sanders smuggling from Seshachalam forests in the state. The woodcutters from Tamil Nadu did not stop felling the red sanders trees in Seshachalam forests despite Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force (RSASTF) personnel and staff of Forest and Police departments intensifying combing operations.
The woodcutters, who are the base for the multi-billion illegal red sanders smuggling, belong to Malayali tribe living mostly in Javadimalai areas spread over three districts of Salem, Tiruvannamalai and Vellore in Tamil Nadu.
These woodcutters are the key players in the stage 1 of the 7 stage red sanders smuggling. They venture into the inhospitable forests to cut red sanders trees and carry the weighty logs on head from the deep forests to the loading point, passing through the hazardous terrain risking their lives and eluding the vigil and surveillance of task force and forest staff.
Though the cutting of the trees turned highly risky in the wake of task force, forest and police departments following the government tough stand dealing the smugglers with an iron hand, it failed to stop the Javadimalai tribal from coming to Sechachalam forests. RSASTF IG M Kantha Rao said the tribal sentiment was the main reason while the part of liquor is no less in abetting the woodcutter taking up the illegal felling of trees in the forests. The mawkish Malayali tribe did not feel the cutting of the trees is wrong or illegal.
Instead, the tribe believes that it is his traditional right and it is ingrained in their blood. Further, the tribal is fond of liquor which the unscrupulous smugglers are using it as a bait to catch them, he said observing that ‘the sentiment and the vice proving a deadly combination in the sense remaining unbreakable for us to end the smuggling’. “First, we were clue less on finding pooja materials like incense stick, vermillion and turmeric powder, along with essentials like rice, oil, vegetables and also medicines seized from smugglers,” the IG said. After sustained enquiries, the task force personnel astonished to find that the woodcutters never forget to bring them while on their job.
“Before venturing into the forest, they do pooja to a stone they pick up in the area and again before cutting the tree in the forest and lastly after bringing the logs to the loading point, revealing how strongly they are bound by tradition,” Rao observed. “Cutting trees is our traditional profession. We know no other thing except the forests and wood cutting for living,” a woodcutter has confessed, who was recently nabbed.
A senior task force official said woodcutter is the base of the edifice of the entire smuggling of red sanders. “Sadly, we are still not able to make the tribal break the shackle of ill-conceived notion to desist from cutting trees. Unless the woodcutter stops, we cannot break the back of the smugglers to end the illegal trade,” he said on condition of anonymity.