ODISHA: At least 12 wood-cutters have been arrested for allegedly smuggling red sandalwood and around 200 quintals of logs were seized from them in Mahendra forest range in Gajapati district of Odisha.
The arrests were made in the last two years and the seizures were also made during that time, Range officer Prabhakar Nayak.
Red sandalwood is found in Garabandh, Goshani, Gandahati, Narayanpur, Jalanga and Kitchlingi forests in the district. "We have foiled many smuggling attempts by timely intervention and intensive patrolling," said divisional forest officer (Paralakhemundi) R K Singh.
On some occasions, the forest personnel have been assaulted by smugglers, said the DFO, adding the offensive against them would continue.
There is a huge demand for red sandalwood in China, Japan and Western countries. It is mostly found in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Karnataka.
"Smugglers usually engage locals to cut the trees and transport the logs," said forester (Mahendra range) Prakash Chandra Bisoi.
"Most people arrested during our crackdown were from Andhra Pradesh or villages on Odisha-Andhra border," he said.