Three people were arrested by the Hyderabad police on Sunday after they were found transporting around 50 red sanders logs at the outskirts of the city.
The trio included an auto rickshaw driver and two daily wage labourers, who were travelling in the wrong direction on the Outer Ring Road (ORR) when the police patrol intercepted them.
According to the Times of India, they took the ORR at Shamshabad, which would lead to Gachibowli, but took a U-turn and started driving on the wrong side, after they felt that they were not taking the right route to Gachibowli.
â€œOn seeing an auto, which is prohibited on the ORR, going in the wrong direction, we went and stopped the three-wheeler.We found something fishy and started checking the auto. Underneath the seat, we found red sanders, approximately two quintals. Each piece was about two feet and there were 51 pieces in a bag,'' Shamshabad sub inspector Ahmed Pasha told TOI.
The Deccan Chronicle reported that the the suspects initially played dumb, claiming that they were only passengers, while the said that he was just employed to transport the material.
However, they soon reportedly admitted that the wood was obtained from the Seshachalam forests in the Allagadda area of Andhra's Kurnool district.
Red sanders are indigenous to the Eastern Ghats in Andhra and grow mainly in the Seshachalam hill ranges spread across Chittoor and Kadapa districts in the Rayalaseema region.
The wood has a huge demand abroad, especially in China and Japan.
The Andhra government often seizes several tonnes of logs every year during combing operations by special forces in the forests.
The logs are often auctioned later by the state.
There are three grades of logs based on the quality of the wood - Grade A is sold for around Rs 1.5 crore per tonne, Grade B for around Rs 55 lakh and and Grade C fetches between Rs 15-35 lakh.