Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh police is mulling the use of drone cameras for enhanced surveillance in Seshachalam forests of Chittoor-Kadapa-Nellore region in its bid to tighten the noose around red sanders smugglers.
“We have not taken a decision on it. The suggestion has come from the Chief Minister. So, we are examining whether we should go for drone cameras or static balloon cameras,” AP DGP Jasti Venkata Ramudu, told a news agency.
He said the objective is to have a better surveillance and control the crime.
During a review meeting on law and order situation in the state recently, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had proposed the idea of using drone cameras or static balloon cameras to keep a tight vigil on red sanders smugglers.
The government had earlier said an estimated 40,000 metric tonnes of wood (worth Rs 40,000 crore) was “looted” between 2002 and 2015 and 12,573 cases of red sanders wood smuggling were registered.
Over 13,000 MT of the precious wood were seized, 7,354 vehicles impounded and 19,852 people arrested for their involvement in illegal cutting, transportation of red sanders in the state during the 2002-2015 period.
To check smuggling activities, government had also formed a Special Task Force (STF) which comprise officers from police and forest departments.
It has been carrying out raids on the hideouts across Kadapa, Chittoor, Nellore and Kurnool to check rampant felling of the red sanders trees.
Red sanders widely grow in Seshachalam hill ranges spread across Kadapa, Chittoor and Kurnool in the Rayalaseema region and parts of Nellore district.
The state police had intensified the crackdown since May 2014 on smuggling of red sanders following increased face-offs between smugglers and the police, forest personnel.
Twenty people from Tamil Nadu were gunned down in Seshachalam hill range of Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh on April 7 this year in an operation by the police.
The state government has earned a revenue of nearly Rs 1,000 crore in September last year through an e-auction of seized red sanders logs, which commands a huge demand overseas.