The shortage has led to a government decision to amend the Karnataka Forests Act 1963, allowing people to grow sandalwood trees and own them. In the past, every tree was the state government’s property. "We are relaxing the rules so that people protect the trees and then get a good price (about Rs 5 to 8 lakh a ton) in the market. The old rule helped smugglers because people were not allowed to cut them. Now, we are sure people will prevent smugglers from taking away these precious trees," says the additional principal chief conservator of forests.
The revenues from export of sandalwood statues and billets by the Karnataka State Forest Industries Corporation was about Rs 10.8 crore in 1992. Now, the exports are down to a trickle. The new move to grow trees will certainly help bridge the gap.