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Andhra logs an export triumph

There is a twist in this sale. Andhra Pradesh has made elaborate arrangements to auction 4,159 tonnes of confiscated Red Sanders logs in the international market. Roadshows have been planned in China, Japan and Singapore, where wood from the endangered tree is treasured for its use in traditional medicines. E-mails are being sent to traders in these and other countries.

The auction is expected to fetch Rs 10-30 lakh a tonne. Demand for the wood is so high that it is smuggled out of India on flights, in handbags. In 1997, Red Sanders, endemic in Andhra Pradesh’s forests, was declared an endangered species.

Last October, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of World Fauna and Flora gave India a one-off chance to export 11,806 tonnes of seized Red Sanders logs. Andhra Pradesh, sitting on a 8,584-tonne stockpile, intended to auction half of this between

THE LOG STORY
  • The amount of confiscated Red Sanders logs Andhra Pradesh plans to auction in the international market
    8,584 tonnes (4,159 tonnes in Sept)
  • The auction is expected to fetch Rs 10-30 lakh a tonne
  • CM Chandrababu Naidu plans to use the proceeds to part-fund a farm loan waiver of Rs 43,000 cr

September 19 and 26, the state government said in a notification on Friday.

Now, for another twist in this sale: Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu might use the proceeds to fund a farm loan waiver he had promised in the state Assembly elections earlier this year. The Rs 2,000 crore his government expects is, of course, small change for the Rs 43,000-crore loan write-off.

Smuggling of Red Sanders hit the headlines this year when two Andhra Pradesh forest officers were lynched near Tamil Nadu. Soon after, 10 Tamils were killed by the state’s forest guards in an encounter.

Andhra Pradesh principal chief conservator of forests, A V Joseph, said only half the permitted quota was being auctioned now because the Directorate General of Foreign Trade did not want to flood the market at a go.

The central government’s MSTC Ltd will conduct the electronic auction. The starting price is Rs 7-12 lakh a tonne, depending on the grade of wood. The base price will be announced a day or two ahead of auctioning.

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