A six-member expert committee, constituted by the National Green Tribunal, on Thursday visited the site of the third-phase expansion of the fisheries port at Old Bunder area here.

It was constituted after a case was filed by Octavia Albuquerque and others, to look into the allegations that a creek was filled up in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules.

The construction of the wharf, initially estimated to cost Rs. 57.6 crore in 2011, was halted with the Principal Bench ordering status quo on the petition in April. In its May 13 order, the Tribunal constituted the committee to inspect the site in question and file a comprehensive report on the issue.

The members include Marine Geology Professor of Mangalore University Rajasekhariah Shankar; Fisheries College Professor Ramachandra Bhatta; a scientist nominated by Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; an expert on Coastal Zone Management to be nominated by the Secretary of Ministry of Earth Sciences, Director or his Senior nominee from Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad; and Member Secretary, Karnataka Coastal Zone Management Authority.

The committee is being coordinated by Ministry of Environment and Forests. The Tribunal has said that the report of the Committee should indicate past and present status of the creek and whether the creek or any part thereof has been filled by any process.

The Committee was given six weeks time from May 13 to file its report. The Tribunal, headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar has directed that the matter should be listed for directions and arguments on July 9.

The Committee members, who refused share their views with media, held a meeting at the DC office with officials before visiting the site.

Panel’s task

The expert committee has been asked look into the history of the creek and its significance in the life of the people living around the area; its size and depth at present and prior to 2004; whether creek shown in the survey of India map and google maps from 2004 to 2013, is reflected in Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) 1996;whether the proposed project area in question is in CRZ 1 or 2, among others.

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