Four arrested in Odisha on charges of smuggling sandalwood

Behrampur, Nov 6:  Logs of red sandalwood were seized and four persons were arrested by forest officials when they were trying to smuggle it out from Naryanpur reserve forest in Gajapati district of Odisha.

Forest officials seized one tonne sandalwood worth over Rs 2 lakh, besides arresting the four yesterday in the area falling under Mahendra forest range, official sources said.

The accused were identified as Kamala Sabara (35), Mangala Raghab (45), Gobardhan Pasbuka Reddy (55) and Bharat Aliana (45), said Forest Range Officer Prabhakar Nayak.

Aliana, who is polio-stricken, was arrested earlier for allegedly smuggling ganja into different places of the state, Haryana and Chennai, forest officials said.

They suspect the tricycle-rider might be the middleman for the smuggling activities.

"We are verifying his role," said forester Prakash Chandra Bisoi.

While some logs of sandalwood were seized from the spot, others were recovered during raids on houses of the accused.

The four persons confessed to cutting an old tree.

Red sandalwood, an extinct species, is highly in demand in international market, mainly China.

It is used for preparing medicines, handicraft items, furniture and perfume.

Red sandalwood trees are abundant in Gajapati district, particularly in Garabandh and Mahendra forests, located along Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border.