Sandalwood, red sander timbers smuggled most

New Delhi: Sandalwood and red sander timbers are smuggled the most in the country and the government expects to soon receive a state-wise inventory of such trees, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said today. He told the Lok Sabha during Question Hour that among valuable species of trees were illegally felled and smuggled, sandalwood and red sander timbers were smuggled the most.

The Environment and Forest Minister said the government was open to suggestions for strengthening laws to curb illegal felling of valuable timber species.

A Coimbatore-based body was collecting data on forest inventory and the government would soon get a report on state-wise inventory of sandalwood and red sander trees, he said, adding that it was a work in progress. To a query on smuggling of valuable timber through waterways in Uttar Pradesh, Javadekar said an inspection team would be send to the state and asked to submit a report in two months.

He noted that smuggling of teak wood was happening through the waterways in the state. Noting that protection and management of forests was primarily the responsibility of the concerned state and union territory administratons, he said actions to tackle illegal felling of trees were taken as per provision of various laws, both at the central and state levels.

“Central government is open to considering suggestions to strengthen the relevant provisions in these Acts or policy to curb illegal felling and trade of valuable timber species like sandalwood/red sander,” he said. Responding to another question, Javadekar said that in most states, the forest officers carry arms and use additional force to safeguard the wildlife and forest wealth.

“The forest personnel do take the help of armed police forces in case of necessity to prevent forest and wildlife crimes,” he noted.

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