Red sanders, lal chandan or raktachandan trees, with their heavy trunks darting into the skies, are not safe in the endangered list. The trees, valued for their rich red colour, are found nowhere in the world except in the Seshachalam forests of Andhra Pradesh. Furniture and musical instruments made of it are difficult to find and expensive. A tonne of red sanders fetches up to Rs 20 lakh in India, and Rs 50-80 lakh internationally.
The high price is the reason many woodcutters from Tamil Nadu cross over to Andhra and risk their lives for logs of wood.
The killing of 20 woodcutters from poor families of Tamil Nadu, who had been hired by smugglers to illegally cut down the red sanders in Tirupati’s Seshachalam forest, has led to a nationwide outburst about violation of human rights and protests in Chennai against the Andhra Pradesh police. Rights activists termed it a “massacre” and the NHRC and courts took cognisance.