Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) today said that they had recovered 14.63 metric tonnes of red sanders estimated to be valued at Rs 11.70 crores in the international illicit market. The red sandalwood was found from a consignment at Inland Container Depot (ICD) Sabarmati. This consignment, declared to contain ‘assorted toiletries’, was going to be exported to Sharjah, UAE.
The DRI officials had received a tip that massive amount of red sanders was going to be smuggled out of the country through a certain shipment which said to be exporting assorted toiletries. As such ‘Operation Rakth Chandan’ was launched and close surveillance was kept on the suspect export consignment at ICD Sabarmati.
Acting on the above intelligence, the suspected container was examined via a container scanning device, which confirmed the presence of some goods in logs form and the absence of assorted toiletries. Upon further investigation, DRI found that the container was fully stuffed with wooden logs of red colour. The logs were taken out and preliminary examination confirmed them to be red sandalwood.
In all, 840 wooden logs, weighing a total of 14.63 metric tonnes were recovered from the container.
Further investigations are underway.
Red Sanders is a flora-specie that is endemic to a distinct tract of forests in Eastern Ghats region of Andhra Pradesh and fall under ‘endangered list’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Red Sanders is also listed in Appendix-II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES). Its rich hue and therapeutic properties are responsible for its high demand across Asia, particularly China, for use in cosmetics, medicinal products and high-end furniture as well as woodcrafts. The export of Red Sanders from India is prohibited as per Foreign Trade Policy.
In the fiscal year 2020-21 DRI seized 96 metric tonnes of red sanders and in 2021-22 it was 95 metric tonnes. Together this amount valued at over Rs150 crores in the international illicit market.
In March this year, DRI seized 12.20 metric tonnes of red sanders wood from a container in CFS, Krishnapatnam that was being smuggled to Malaysia along with cover cargo of sand and cement, chips and gravel and miscellaneous household items. In the same month, 11.7 metric tonnes of red sanders wood was seized at Mundra port, which was being smuggled out of India in the guise of export of tractor parts.