Following a tip-off, the Central Intelligence Unit of the Jawaharlal Nehru custom house, Nhava Sheva has seized seven containers of red sanders and electronics at its port last week.
Out of the seven, two containers were full of red sanders valued at Rs 1.6 crore, while five others were of consumer goods worth Rs 5 crore, which had been undeclared.
Red sanders is a tree yielding a hard fragrant timber.
The containers were brought from Karnataka to Mumbai, and were being exported to Dubai. The documents of the containers were fabricated to show that they contained aluminium alloy conductors. A company named ‘Able Shipping’ had brought the logs to Mumbai, about which nothing has been found so far.
KR Bhargav, chief commission custom officer of zone 2 said, “We have seized 18.8 tons of red sanders and it is worth Rs 1.6 crore in the international market. This is the 14th seizure this year bringing the total amount of red sanders seized to 230 tons.”
“The sanders are an endangered species found on the border of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Normally some groups carry on such smuggling and our initial investigation has already started. No one has been arrested so far,” he added.
When asked about the involvement of the forest department, he said, “Our investigation is at the initial stage and it will be too early to suspect any one. However, considering the history of such smugglings, it will be unfair to blame the forest department.”
SV Sheshadri, wild life inspector, Mumbai, said, “These logs have a very high value in the international market. Medicines for various diseases are made from them. It is also used for blood purification and in preparing ayurvedic medicines.”
Assistant commissioner of customs of Nhava Sheva, Manoj Kumar said, “Generally, such logs of sanders are covered with vegetables or fruits in containers, to deceive security personnel.”