Red sandalwood, teak wood worth Rs 3 cr seized from Chakan

Acting on a tip-off to deputy superintendent of police B R Patil, a team of Chakan police raided two godowns at Waki Budruk village and seized red sandalwood and teak wood worth Rs 3 crore on Friday afternoon. The process of assessing the quantity of seized stock was on till late night. An offence has been registered against unidentified persons at Chakan police station.

Red sandalwood is a rare and protected species found only in India and its import and export is banned. However, it is being smuggled to foreign countries. Several cases of red sandalwood seizures have been reported. But this is arguably the first time that red sandalwood has been seized from Pune district.

Police teams first raided a godown at Waki Budruk in Chakan and found red sandalwood, suspected to be over 16 tonnes. Investigation revealed that the godown was owned by Kailas Tope and Datta Tope and it was rented out for Rs 60,000 per month about six months ago. Search is on for the person who took the godown on rent from Tope.

Red sandalwood was brought to the godown in trucks. Police found that at night red sandalwood was also brought to another nearby tin shed godown.

On raiding this godown, cops found more red sandalwood and teak wood. This godown is owned by one Bhausaheb Dhadphale, police said.

"One tonne of red sandalwood costs about Rs 10 lakh in international market. It is used for medicinal and other purposes. We have informed the forest department officers for investigation. As the racketeers paid Rs 60,000 per month as rent of one godown, we suspect huge profits were being made out of the illegal red sandalwood trade from the spot," said deputy superintendent Patil.

It is suspected that racketeers were taking red sandalwood to Mumbai ports from Chakan from where they smuggled it out to foreign countries.

Red sandalwood

Red sanders or red sandalwood (Pterocarpus Santalinus) is a rare and and precious wood found only in India. It grows naturally in Seshachalam hill ranges in Kadapa, Chittoor and Nellore districts on the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

It is an endangered species, protected under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora list, export and import of which got banned in 1994.

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