BHUBANESWAR: Cyclone Titli, which ravaged Gajapati district in 2018, is all set to bring windfall gains for the State government after four years. The government is likely to earn over Rs 500 crore from the sale of red sanders, also known as red sandalwood or ‘Rakta Chandan’, that were felled by the cyclone.
The red sanders are said to be over 100 years old. The trees had been planted by the then Maharaja of Parlakhemundi in 1912. The density of the wood is also said to be much more compared to other red sandalwood found in the country, thus likely to fetch high price.
Officials in the State Forest, Environment and Climate Change department said process has been initiated for global e-tendering and e-auction sale of 810.18 tonne timber that have been recovered from the trees.
After Centre relaxed the export norms for Odisha to sell the valuable wood last year, the Forest department has formed a committee involving Odisha Forest Development Corporation (OFDC) to prepare terms of reference and determine a suitable strategy for marketing of the wood in log form.
The Committee officials have been asked to review the global market status for red sanders and also approve the general, special and buyers-specific terms and conditions for e-auction sale of the timber often described as ‘red gold.’
“As soon as the terms and conditions are finalised we will go for international bidding,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Sisir Kumar Ratho. He said the terms and conditions finalised a few months back required some changes, accordingly the OFDC has been asked to submit a fresh proposal to the government at the earliest.
Though the State government expects to earn a revenue of around Rs 500 crore from the global sale of the timber, officials said the auction could fetch much more than the expected value as price of high-grade red sanders sometimes do cross Rs 1 crore per tonne in the international market.
Red sanders has also been included in the ‘endangered’ category of International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. There are only around 60 living trees in the district that have survived the cyclone, officials said.