Drones to check red-sander smuggling

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Drones can detect movement of the wood cutters in the deep forest.

Anantapur: The police department has proposed using drones and vehicle scanners to check red-sander smuggling from Seshachalam forest in Rayalaseema region following rise in the number of wood-cutters from Tamil Nadu and they daring to attack forest and police officials in the forest.

Drones can detect movement of the wood cutters in the deep forest. Vehicle scanners can curb illicit smuggling of red sanders using oil tankers, milk tankers and ambulances.

The police authorities have proposed seeking tough measures to protect red sanders, available in the world only in Seshachalam forest.

Police and forest department officials have noticed that Tamil Nadu-wood cutters, mostly from Javadhu Hills, an extension of the Eastern Ghats spread across parts of Vellore and Thiruvannamalai districts in the northern part of the Tamil Nadu.

About one lakh population of tribals and at least 25,000 are on profession of wood-cutting. A senior forest official from Rayalaseema region said that wood cutters from the Javadhu Hills area are capable of walking more than 40 km with 50 kg of logs.

“They are very rough and engaged in the profession of wood cutting in all parts of Kerala, AP, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The gangs spoiled sandal wood trees in Kerala and Karnataka and are now focused on red sanders,” the official observed.

Although the government has sought drones and vehicle scanners to curb smuggling, forest and police officials need stringent action to curb the cutters taken at the initial point itself by mounting pressure on the Tamil Nadu government.

“We are not even in a position to find out the accused at their given addresses in Tamil Nadu villages. Moreover the villagers are revolting on the police who go in with pending warrants,” a Kadapa police official said.

A forest official said that drones can help only to an extent because the Seshachalam forest is dense with many big trees and it is not easy to see the movements of smugglers. “Drones help on plain land, not in thick forests”, he said.

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