HYDERABAD: With the smuggling of precious red sanders continuing unabated, the forest department has decided to use specialised radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to keep track of the logs.
RFID is a tracking system that uses bar codes to track items in a store and the same technology can be used to track the sanders logs. The tags can be embedded into trees manually or with the help of machines and can be monitored from a specific point.
Forest department officials have already started conducting tests for the RFID on the logs and they are satisfied with the results, a senior official said and added, “Once we are satisfied with the results, tenders will be called for the supply of the tags.”
Officials claim that the tags are very useful. “Once a red sanders log is embedded with the tag, we will know if anyone tries to shift it from the forest department godown,” they said and added that a loud beep sound will be heard when a log a is being shifted and thus will help to identify the particular missing log. Moreover, officials can track the status of the logs every 30 minutes with the new technology.
The RFID tags are cheap and hence it would not be difficult for the forest department to bear their expenses.
Currently, Mahagony wood which is featured in the list of endangered species of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is being monitored through RFID tags, he said.
“Radio frequency identification has the potential not only to support sustainable forest management but also to provide information of the movement of red sanders,” the official said and added that the technology could be used to identify each tree and track it from the forest till the godowns.
A tonne of red sanders costs more than `25 lakh in the international market. Red sanders trees are naturally found only in three districts of Andhra Pradesh -- Chittoor, Kadapa and Nellore.
Meanwhile, with an intention to attract a large number of foreign buyers to the auction of the seized sanders logs, the Andhra Pradesh government has postponed the proposed e-tender-cum-e-auction to October 6. The auction was earlier scheduled to begin from September 19.
After the road show and pre-bid meetings by officials of the forest department in China and Japan, the auction has been rescheduled to facilitate foreign buyers’ visit to red sanders deopts. Earlier, as part of the first phase, the auction of 4,160 metric tonnes of red sanders logs was to begin on September 19. For the same, 177 e-lots were drawn for the sale of 1,77,877 logs. The Andhra Pradesh government is eyeing as much as `1,000 crore from the auction.
So far, representatives of as many as 123 foreign companied and 261 domestic companies have visited red sanders depots in Guntur, Kurnool and Tirupati forest divisions.
Interested groups from countries like China, Japan, Singapore, Australia and UAE visited godowns across the state to check the quality of the precious logs, forest officials said and added that the department was satisfied with the response from prospective buyers.
The government has fixed a starting price of `7 lakh- `12 lakh per metric tonne for A, B, C and non-grades respectively and is making all out efforts to reach out to maximum number of potential buyers by trying to involve foreign embassies in India. The government has also written to the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) seeking their help to pass the message regarding the auction.
For the smooth passage of the auction process, CITES has given a one-time relaxation to India permitting it to export 11,806 metric tonnes of seized and confiscated red sanders in any form, including logs.