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Sandal oil units thriving on smuggled wood

By Our Staff Reporter

PALAKKAD, DEC. 17. An affidavit filed by the State Government before the Central Empowered Committee, constituted by the Supreme Court to assist it with forest cases, has said that "if the present situation of smuggling continues, sandalwood will soon be wiped off the State.''

The affidavit filed before the Commission, which is hearing petitions on the illegal functioning of sandal oil factories in the State, said that if the sandalwood factories in Marayur were not closed down, it would cause the extinction of the species in the State. All the factories indulge in illegal extraction of sandalwood oil and procurement of smuggled sandalwood. There is a network of sandalwood cutters, transporters and collecting centres that ensure the supply of smuggled sandalwood to the factories.

The wealth of sandalwood in the Marayur sandal reserves is dwindling day by day.According to the affidavit, there are 24 sandal oil factories functioning in the border areas of the State. They do not submit their accounts to the Forest Department despite directives for the same in 1997. That these factories extract oil from smuggled sandalwood is an established fact.

An Ordinance relating to sandalwood conservation has been sent to the President of India for his assent, said the affidavit.

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