The chief wildlife warden of Kerala has sought permission from the state government to destroy around 8,000 kg of elephant tusks in possession of the forest department since the 1980s.
V. Gopinathan has written a letter to the state government for permission.
According to international and Indian laws and the Wildlife Protection Act, use of ivory in whatever form is banned, Gopinathan told IANS.
"As far as we are concerned, what we have is a 'zero value product'. A huge amount of resources are being used to guard this quantity that is in our possession since the 'eighties, when the ban was enforced," he said.
However, even though for technical reasons the ivory has been declared a "zero value product", in the international black market its estimated price run into millions of dollars.
"Giving you an approximate value of the ivory is not permitted because it is against the law. As far as we are concerned, we have sought the government's permission to destroy it."
"Maybe, we can hand a bit of what we have to the museums, but there is a limit to that and even after that there will be lot left," he said.
Trade in ivory, especially for supply to the carving industry, was a big business till the 1980s. Carved products were popular among foreign tourists.
"The rule is that anyone found in possession of ivory can be sentenced to seven years in jail. We are now awaiting sanction from the government to destroy the stock," Gopinathan said.