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Seized red sanders wood was en route to China


Shimla : The Himachal Pradesh Police has found that the banned red sanders wood seized close to the international border wes being smuggled to China, an official said Friday.

Two trucks transporting 12 tonnes (120 quintal) of red sanders wood were seized close to the China border at Kaurik in Lahaul and Spiti district Tuesday. These were brought in from Delhi.

Earlier, the police believed that it was sandalwood but later came to know that it was red sanders – a rare flora species that is endemic to the southern parts of the country, mainly Andhra Pradesh.

“It’s a case of cross-border smuggling and it is believed to be en route to China. There might be some big gang behind the trade,” Superintendent of Police S.R. Rana told IANS.

The trucks, both bearing Himachal Pradesh number plates, were parked just three km short of the international border. The truck drivers – Vijay Kumar and Raju – were arrested.

“Surprisingly, both the drivers have in possession valid permits issued by the ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) at the Sumdoh check post to move ahead to the border,” Rana said.

He said police are investigating how the drivers got the permit from the ITBP and who have hired the trucks to transport the wood.

“The trucks were owned by someone in Delhi (as per assertions by the drivers). One of them said he was paid Rs.300,000 for transporting the logs to the border, the other was paid Rs.100,000,” Inspector General (Law and Order) S.R. Mardi said.

He said one more person, Prem Singh was arrested from the neighbouring Kinnaur district Thursday. “The police believe that he was allegedly helping the smugglers take the consignment across the border.”

Himachal Pradesh shares a porous border with China and the police officers say smuggling of rare species of fauna, and Chinese goods like blankets and thermos flasks are quite frequent.

The red sanders wood is a prohibited item for export and listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) list.