Unfazed by criticism, Andhra set for phase two of red sanders auction
news Thursday, April 09, 2015 - 05:30
Even as outrage on the killing of 20 alleged red sanders smugglers in the Seshachalam forest in Andhra Pradesh continues, and many questions about the police's claims remain unanswered, the AP government is getting ready to auction its second round of red sanders from May 4 to May 7. 3,500 tonnes of wood is getting ready to be sold through a global e-auction which will be conducted by the Government of India through its enterprise, Minerals State Trading Corporation (MSTC) Ltd. "It will be auctioned in the same way as the first phase - to global competitors who will bid for the wood depending on its quality," A V Joseph, principal chief conservator of forests told The News Minute. 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. In the first phase, the government sold 4,160 tonnes of red sanders and earned a revenue of Rs 750 crore. However, nearly 90 percent of the total red sanders sold in the first phase were the Grade C variety while only 4.69 tonnes were Grade A logs. "For the second phase, the people registered with the MSTC can bid for the latest batch or they can apply for registration before the end of the month and they can also participate in the auction," B. Muralikrishna, also with the Andhra Pradesh Forest Conservative Authority, tells TNM. Out of the 3,500 tonnes in the second phase, 20 percent are Grade A logs, 30 percent are Grade B and the remaining Grade C logs. With more Grade A logs being auctioned this time around, the government expects to net a much higher revenue. "This time we will easily net more than Rs 1,500 crore since the quality of wood acquired is much better," Muralikrishna adds. However, when asked if it was a sensitive time to be auctioning the wood, taking into account the recent incident in Chittor, the authorities refused to comment, claiming that it was not under their jurisdiction. Since red sanders is an endangered species and its sale is banned, the AP government has secured a temporary relaxation on the ban, through the Director General of Foreign Trade, to allow India to export 11,806 tonnes of confiscated red sanders in all forms. The relaxation was valid till October 2014 but AP has secured an extension till April 2016 to complete the auction. The red sandalwood is used as a medicine and also in the flavoring of some alcoholic beverages. It has a huge demand abroad, especially in China and Japan has it grows mainly in the Seshachalam hill ranges spread across Chittoor and Kadapa districts in the Rayalaseema region. Tweet Follow @thenewsminute
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