Sandalwood faces extinction in India

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Mysore, Feb 3: The City of Palaces link with Sandalwood, which earlier gave a royal distinct brand and the special fragrance, was missing now.

Craftspersons, who were involved in producing intricate works of art, were now shifting from sandalwood to other raw-materials. If the present trend continues, the region's assocation with sandalwood would soon become history.

The sandalwood produced in Mysore region was universally acknowledged as the best in the world and even Tipu Sultan declared it as a royal tree in 1792. But today, sandalwood's classification was threatened by species and its inclusion in the red list, was neither adequately publicised, nor was it felt that Mysore's sobriquent as a 'sandalwood city, was vanishing now.

The fact remains that the availability of sandalwood had declined and was hard to come by.

Sources at Handicrafts marketing and at the extension centre here told the sources that the decimation of the habitant and rampant smuggling in the past had reduced the supply of sandalwood, which has forced the artisans to shift their preferences to white-wood or Sivani-wood.

Reckoned to be suitable for growth in dry forests, the region surrounding Mysore-Chamarajanagara belt was apt for the rare species to grow under natural conditions. But over-harvesting, smuggling and the government"s policy of strict regulation, which was a continuation of the British policy, ensured the downfall of the aromatic plant, that gave the region a unique aura.

Natural habitat for sandalwood in Mysore region, were, Chamundi Hills, Bandipur National Park forests, Maddur Range, Yediyala, Arabhitittu, Punajanur forests, B R Hills, K Gudi forests, M M Hills and surrounding regions. But the free-hand, which the forest brigand Veerappan had and the relentless smuggling, rung the death knell of the rare species.

The sandalwood was found only in India, China, Indonesia and the Philippines but over the years, India's production, mainly from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had declined, while the inferior varieties from other countries were flooding the International market, that was giving India a run for the money.

UNI

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