Bangalore: Around 15 tonnes of rare red sandalwood, valued at Rs.7 crore, were seized yesterday from a truck in Karnataka's Koppal district when it was being transported illegally to Mumbai from Andhra Pradesh, an official said.
"On a tip-off from the director of revenue intelligence, we intercepted the truck with Punjab registration at Kushtagi in neighbouring Koppal and seized the sandalwood, as it was being carried without valid documents," Assistant Commissioner of Central Excise Arvind Ghuge told IANS from Bellary, about
The excise team brought the consignment to Bellary, about 310 km from Bangalore, along with the truck cleaner as its driver fled from the scene.
"The sandalwood was concealed under a load of papaya fruit in the truck, which managed to cross from Kurnool in the Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh and went through Bellary and Hospet towns before we could raid it at Kushtagi," Ghuge said.
Though no arrests have been made, the excise team is investigation the case to ascertain the source of the sandalwood and to whom it was being sent to Mumbai.
"We are investigating the case from all angles to find out if the illegal consignment was meant for export or consumption in the Mumbai market, as red sandalwood is in great demand for a variety of uses, including furniture and artifacts," Ghuge added.