Though the exact value of the red sanders in international market is not known with the forest officials saying it depends on the demand, a businessman from China, who visited Tirupati recently, was said to have offered to Rs 45-50 lakh per tonne.
“For the best quality of red sanders wood, we will pay you up to Rs 50 lakh per tonne legally,” he reportedly said when he met the Tirupati divisional forest officer.
The forest department is holding more than 9,000 tonne of seized red sanders and has been urging the Union government to allow its sale in the international market.
Going by the China businessman’s offer, the forest department could get Rs 4,000-5,000 crore by selling the seized wood.
However, officials believe they could get a better price in the international market through global auction.
This only shows that smugglers are making huge money by looting the red sanders, which is endemic to the Seshachalam and Veligonda hill ranges spread over Chittoor, Kadapa, Nellore and parts of Prakasam and Kurnool districts.
Red sanders is not available anywhere else in the world.
Initially the red sanders wood was being smuggled to Japan ostensibly for making musical instruments.
However, the wood is now being smuggled to China.
The publicly stated use of the wood is that it goes into the making of musical instruments, toys and furniture.
During a power point presentation at the coordination meeting with the forest officials from neighbouring Tamil Nadu a couple of days ago, Tirupati DFO T Chakrapani said he met the Chinese businessman who told him that many Chinese buyers are ready to pay `50 lakh for the best quality of red sanders.
It is said the Chinese believe that any house having any article made of red sanders will be free from all evil forces.
The belief appears to have become a curse for the Seshachalam forest with smugglers cutting down the precious red sanders trees indiscriminately and shipping the wood abroad.
A majority of the forest officials who attended the meeting felt it was not possible for them to stop the menace for various reasons.
“We may get more weapons, strengthen the checkposts and will deploy more staff for curbing the smuggling.
But, all our efforts cannot ensure good results as the smugglers are also coming up with more innovative ideas and using modern weapons and are not hesitant to take any risk as their earnings are quite high,” a top official of the Tamil Nadu forest department told Express.
He felt the central government should give the nod for auctioning the logs stocked in various forest godowns in Andhra Pradesh so that the demand becomes less which in turn will bring down smuggling.