Keonjhar: Smuggling of sandalwood in Keonjhar district is rampant as the mafia have smuggled 20 such precious trees from various places in the last two weeks.
The smugglers are targeting various temple precincts and even the Collectorate premises. However, forest and police officials have failed to make any major breakthrough in such cases.
According to reports, an old sandal tree close to the district planning and coordination office on the premises of the Collectorate was a recent target. Sunday night, two people tried to cut the tree.
However, they could not decamp with the tree as the staffers staying nearby raised an alarm. The miscreants had tried to scare the employees by throwing stones. Sandalwood smugglers have felled five trees in Keonjhar town during the last few days, said sources.
An investigation into these incidents is underway, said Sadar range forester Kalindi Samal. Three sandalwood trees on the premises of Sri Sri Baladevjew temple were cut down by the mafia a few days ago.
Recently, four such trees were cut down on two temple premises under Anandapur police station. Moreover, 11 sandalwood trees were chopped off and taken away from Nicolson Forest Training school under Champua police limits.