Sandlwood availability in city of a places declining

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Mysore, Nov 23 (UNI) The city of palaces link with sandalwood, which gave the royale a distinct brand, with that special fragrance is on the wane.

Craftsmen, who used to intricate works of art for ages are now shifting from sandalwood to other raw materials that are easy to procure. If the present trend continues, the region's association with sandalwood would soon be a thing of the past.

The sandalwood produced in Mysore, which was universally acknowledged as the best had made Tipu Sultan to declare it as a royal tree in 1792. But, the classification of sandalwood under the threatened species and its inclusion in the red list was neither adequately publicised nor appreciated as the 'sandalwood city' is fast vanishing now. The fact is that the availability of sandalwood has declined and it is hard to get.

Sources at handicrafts marketing and extension centre here told UNI that the decimation of the habitant and rampant smuggling in the past has reduced the supply of sandalwood, forcing the artisans to shift their preference to 'white wood or sivani wood. Reckoned to be suitable for growth in dry deciduous forests region surrounding Mysore-Chamarajanagara belt was apt for the rare species to grow under natural conditions.

But overharvesting and smuggling and the government's strict policy regulation, which was a continuation of the British policy, ensured the downfall of the aromatic plant, which was another feather in the cap of Mysore that gave the region a unique aura.

Natural habitat for sandalwood in the Mysore region, included Chamundi hills, Bandipur National Park forests, Maddur range, Yediyala, Arabhitittu, Punajanur forests, B R Hills, K Gudi forests, M M Hills and surrounding areas. But the free hand, which the forest brigand Veerappan had and the relentless smuggling rung the deathknell of this rare species.

The sandalwood is found only in a few countries including India, China, Indonesia and the Philippines but over the years India's production (mainly from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) has declined, while the inferior variety from other countries was flooding in the international market that was giving India, a run for the money.

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