NELLORE: A Special team comprising forest officials of Kadapa and Nellore districts will formed to curb the smuggling of red sanders. The forest department has also sent a proposal for purchasing a boat to patrol the Somasila reservoir, spread over the two districts. Fishermen have been chopping down red sanders and storing the logs in the reservoir, before smuggling them out of the State and country, over the past couple of decades.
The Somasila project is surrounded by the hills of Penusila Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Wildlife Sanctuary. B-Grade red sanders are abundant in the reserve forest spread over nearly 48 sqkm around the reservoir. The Veligonda range separates Nellore from Kadapa and Kurnool is the backbone of the Eastern Ghats starting from Nagari in Chittoor district. Recently, forest officials led by Y Srinivasa Reddy visited Udayagiri and prepared a surveillance plan for Somasila reservoir, and sent proposals to the government for the estimated Rs 60 lakh project.
Woodcutters and smugglers identify red sanders trees, cut the logs and dump them in the shallow waters of Somasila project and later shift them after confirming that the routes are clear of forest and police patrol parties. Some of the fishermen, originally from Tiruvallur, Chengalpattu, Vellore and Salem districts of Tamil Nadu and East Godavari of AP have been supporting the smuggling.