Kovai residents chase away sandalwood smugglers as police fail to turn up

As per sources, around midnight, a four-member gang tried to cut down a 15-year-old sandal tree on land belonging to R Ganesan on Kannabiran Mill road.
Image used for representational purpose only. (Express Illustrations)
Image used for representational purpose only. (Express Illustrations)

COIMBATORE:  Timely action by residents of Udayampalayam foiled a bid by a gang to cut down a sandal tree in the locality in the wee hours of Tuesday. The locals said they informed the night patrol team about the gang but they failed to turn up.

As per sources, around midnight, a four-member gang tried to cut down a 15-year-old sandal tree on land belonging to R Ganesan on Kannabiran Mill road. Hearing the sound of an axe, residents in the neighbouring apartment contacted TNIE, and the information was immediately conveyed to police on night patrol in the area.

But people said the police did not turn up. “Since the police did not arrive, some of us gathered the courage to prevent the smugglers. We switched on the torch lights and raised alarm. As a result, the gang abandoned the attempt to cut the tree and escaped. About 80% of the tree has been sliced at the bottom,” said a resident who did not want to be named.

On Tuesday morning, TNIE took up the issue with Police Commissioner V Balakrishnan, following which personnel from Peelamedu station visited the locality at 11 am. They assured the locals to register a case and conduct an investigation.

The residents expressed anguish and said the careless attitude of the night patrol police personnel did not instill confidence. “We couldn’t do anything because the gang was armed. That is why we informed the police. But no one came even after giving the information. After that, we had to make noise and chase away the gang. What would have happened if the gang had retaliated?” a resident said. Commissioner Balakrishnan said an inquiry has been ordered as to why the patrol team did not respond.

K Syed of Green care organization, an expert in tree transplantation, along with revenue officials, visited the spot and treated cut wounds by packing them with a natural medicinal mixture. He said wherever there are sandalwood trees in the city, those places should be identified by the police and forest department and steps shout be taken to protect them.

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