Hyderabad: With stringent action being taken against illegal cutting of trees in forests in the Telangana state, the price of wood, particularly teakwood, is likely to go up.
Teakwood is preferred for its durability and water resistance. It is used to make doors, cupboards and other interior furniture. A plain teak door costs around Rs 12,000.
Recent seizures by the forest department show that teakwood constitutes 80 per cent of the wood being smuggled out of the forests.
The forest department has tightened security with the help of the police after Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao directed that smuggling activity be brought down to zero immediately.
Dealers expect to feel the impact of these seizures in the next four to five months.
Some dealers buy their teakwood from smugglers instead of the government timber depots in order to evade tax.
A dealer from the city said, “Some people buy the teakwood from the smuggler as they don’t need to pay 18 per cent GST. But, while selling the goods they collect the 18 per cent GST from the customer to earn huge profits. When the genuine dealer earns five to 10 per cent profits, the dealers who chooses the illegal path earns 30 to 40 per cent profit. Since the government has started seizing the smuggled goods, all those dealers will now start coming to the legal auction of teakwood and that will result in the enhancement of the price.”
Dealers are worried about the procedures they now have to follow. Mr B. Chandrasekhar, a dealer in Hyderabad, said, “We have to fill forms 3A, 3B and 3C. We used to fill in form 3A and 3C that deal with inward and outward movement of the timber, but Form 3C is a record of conversion of the wood and many of us don’t know how to fill it.”
“Being genuine dealers, we always support the moves of the forest department. But, the forest department should consider our request and should train us in filling in Form 3C. With smuggling activity being controlled in the state, we are sure that there will be huge demand for teakwood in the coming months,” the dealer said.
The forest department is very clear regarding curbing smuggling activity in the forests. The quantity of teak being auctioned by the government is low when compared to what is in demand in the open market.
If the forest department continues to take severe action on the smugglers, then the felling of teakwood in the forest will be controlled and the dealers will be forced to purchase the wood through government auctions.
Teak which is collected from private lands after securing a range of permissions will be considered legal. The wood is generally auctioned in government-recognised timber depots. Illegal teak is what the smugglers cut from the forests.
A forest official on condition of anonymity said, “The new Forest Act will hold harsh punishments for the smugglers. Proposals have been made to provide imprisonment for smugglers for 10 years. This would apply for smuggling teak.”
He hoped the tough punishment would deter timber smugglers. “According to the AP Forest Act, 1967 smuggling teak is a compoundable offence, so we are sure that the smuggling activity would be controlled with the new legislation,” the official said....