Red Sanders Smuggling
Looting the Forests
The smuggling of red sanders, a priced wood endemic to the forests of Rayalaseema, is rampant in Andhra Pradesh, where organised gangs having transnational links are involved. Sudhakar toured these areas in Chittoor, Nellore, Kurnool and Kadapa and reported from the ground about how the smuggling takes place. Sudhakar’s articles were about the modus operandi of the smugglers including their nexus with politicians, smuggling routes and codenames for the contraband. It was Sudhakar who exposed the role of outsourced employees of the forest department in aiding the smugglers.
The series of articles written by Sudhakar for Deccan Chronicle played out like a film plot. There were moles among the smugglers who worked for police officers and there were smugglers-turned-filmmakers and actors who aided the smugglers. The reports also brought out the smugglers’ international links with gangs in Dubai and China.
Bio-piracy is the illegal exploitation of bio-resources and traditional knowledge of a particular area by big biotech companies. Sudhakar has written extensively on the efforts of the then united Andhra Pradesh government to form a database of traditional medical knowledge so that patents are not usurped by international companies.
Sudhakar’s reports highlighted the need to educate people on intellectual property rights to save traditional knowledge from getting drained. He documented the fight of an individual against pharma giant Monsanto to pay up for using BT bacterium found in their area.